Around 30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease and 96% don't even know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most severe stage of kidney disease is called kidney failure -- for which around 660,000 Americans are being treated. About 468,000 of people are treated via kidney dialysis. Besides transplantation, dialysis is the most common and effective treatment for CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease). It is a medical process wherein machines take on the functions and responsibilities of the kidneys, allowing artificial regulation of hydration, hormone production and waste filtration in the blood. If you find that your doctor or nephrologist recommends dialysis, there are some things you should know going in.
The Types of Dialysis and How They Work
We went in-depth about the two types of dialysis treatment -- hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis -- in a previous article. They both serve the same function, but in different ways and are prescribed on a case-by-case basis.
Side Effects of Dialysis
Like many medical procedures, dialysis also may come with it's fair share of side effects. These include:
Self-Discipline is Key
If you want to live a longer, more fruitful life that include the activities you love, you need to show up for the dialysis as often as the doctor prescribes. There's no skipping out on treatment -- dialysis is literally taking on a failed organ's duties. Depending on the type of dialysis you receive, you should expect to be in dialysis for as long as 3-4 hours, around 4 times a week. Strictly follow your doctor's and/or nutritionist's health and diet plan that they gave you. Kidney failure leads to a myriad of other health issues including hypertension, diabetes, anemia, bone problems, etc. Dialysis will help to control these, but it's just as crucial for you to take your wellbeing into your own hands to get healthier.
How to Maintain Your Dialysis Equipment
Proper care and maintenance of dialysis is important especially to those that have in-home care. It's not as relevant to those that receive their treatment in hospitals or dialysis centers, although those patients will still need to clean their access site (i.e. where the IV tubes enter/exit the arm or abdomen). Your doctor will recommend the antibacterial soaps that are needed before and after every dialysis session. They will also train you on how to clean your catheters, maintain your hemodialysis fistula or graft. Frequently check all tubes for cracking, wash them with proper soap before and after each session and do not tug on them during treatment.
You Can Still Travel
Dialysis centers are all over the US and in foreign countries. Treatment is globally standardized, so if you plan a business trip or vacation, be sure there is a hospital or dialysis center available with the necessary access and equipment.
If you anticipate going on dialysis, these are some of the basic, universal things to keep in mind. Since treatment is so personalized and based on case-by-case, your nephrologist will explain everything in great detail and make recommendations to ensure that you understand exactly what's happening. If you have any questions about the different dialysis types and what they entail, feel free to contact us or schedule a consultation.