The term dialysis is one that many people are familiar with and connect with treatment dealing with the kidneys. However, not many actually understand what dialysis is and what it entails. If you have just found out that you will require this type of treatment, or that a friend or family member will be experiencing it, the importance of understanding what it is all about cannot be stressed enough. Here you will learn the basics of dialysis and what you can expect from dialysis treatments.

What is dialysis?

The kidneys have many functions that keep our bodies healthy and properly functioning. One function of our kidneys is flushing out toxins. These toxins can be extremely dangerous when they are left in the kidneys. Without treatment (dialysis) the kidneys will shut down and this will ultimately prove fatal. When the kidneys are not functioning properly then there is the danger of the toxins remaining where they are. This is where dialysis comes into play. This medical procedure works to flush them out in the same manner that a properly functioning kidney would do. There are several reasons that the kidneys may stop working right, including high blood pressure, diabetes and all forms of kidney disease.

Although a person may be put on dialysis treatments today, this does not mean they will be on it for the rest of their lives. For some it is only a temporary treatment given just as long as needed until the kidneys being functioning properly again or a donor organ becomes available. However, if neither of these scenarios is possible, it is likely that dialysis will become a routine part of the person’s life. It is also worth noting that even with a transplant, the condition may not be cured and the dialysis would have to be continued.

Types of Dialysis

There are two different types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. The main difference between the two is where and how they are performed. Hemodialysis is done by a medical team in a hospital, doctor’s office or clinic. Peritoneal dialysis can be done by the person in their home. Not everyone is a good candidate for this type of dialysis so they must be assessed by their medical provider before a decision can be made. This at home dialysis treatment requires that the person have a tube and plug inserted in their abdominal cavity, within the peritoneal membrane. They put the glucose mixture into the tube, wait two hours and drain it out.

Hemodialysis is, as stated above, the more common form of dialysis known to most people. In fact, many people may not know anything about peritoneal dialysis until they are faced with kidney problems. During this procedure, the person has tubes hooked to their veins and the tubes are in turn connected to a special machine that circulates through the blood in order to rid the kidneys of the offending toxins. It typically takes between three and four hours for each hemodialysis treatment. How often treatments are needed is determined by the medical professional.

The honest truth about dialysis is that it is a fantastic procedure that has helped in saving hundreds of thousands of lives. However, no treatment is perfect and this is true of dialysis as well. There are some people that can live out the rest of their lives on dialysis treatment and be just fine. But, there are others who do not take as well to the treatment. There are no guarantees. Even if the treatments do work as a life saving measure, and many times it does, the person must still make changes to their life in order to stay in the best condition possible. Things such as diet change and physical fitness must become an important part of the treatment. This will help in preventing any further damage to the kidneys.