If you have kidneys that aren’t functioning properly, your doctor may have recommended dialysis. But there are several reasons people need dialysis, and there are a few different kinds of dialysis. It can be confusing to understand what kind of dialysis is right for you and why.
What is dialysis?
Dialysis is an artificial way to allow your body to eliminate waste from the blood. This is usually done by the kidneys, and it is vital for your body to function properly, so dialysis is important if your kidneys are unable to carry out this process.
Dialysis is also sometimes called renal replacement therapy because it replaces the work of the kidneys. However, dialysis is not able to completely replace all the functions of a healthy kidney.
What is a healthy kidney like?
When a kidney is functioning properly, it can filter up to 150 quarts of blood every day. An unhealthy kidney can cause waste to build up in the blood. If this continues to happen, coma or death can occur.
What causes Kidney damage?
Kidney damage can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a healthy person can end up with kidney damage as the result of an injury or minor illness. Other times kidney damage is caused by a chronic illness. Diabetes and certain autoimmune disorders are often major contributors to kidney damage.
Why is dialysis important?
Dialysis can be life-saving for someone with kidney damage or failure. It filters the blood, ensuring that waste in the blood stays at manageable levels.
Types of dialysis
The type of dialysis a patient needs will be determined by his or her doctor based on factors such as cost, availability, and the patient’s health.
A patient will usually have hemodialysis three times a week. The process takes around 3 or 4 hours each day, depending on how functional the patient’s kidneys are. Hemodialysis can be done at a hospital, dialysis center, or even at home.
2. Peritoneal Dialysis
Peritoneal dialysis relies on the internal lining of the abdomen, called the peritoneum, which has natural filtering abilities. A special solution of minerals and glucose runs through a tube into the peritoneal cavity. It stays there for a while and absorbs waste, and then it is drained out.
This usually needs to be done several times a day, and it takes longer than hemodialysis. But peritoneal dialysis can be done more easily at home with less equipment, and it can be done while traveling. For this reason, peritoneal dialysis may be a better option for people who work or who are in school.
3. Continuous Renal Replacement Therapies
Continuous renal replacement therapy can be done continually for 24 hours in an intensive care unit. Because it is continuous, it is slower which makes it more tolerable and leads to fewer complications.