What is Hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is a medical technique that can greatly extend and improve the quality of life for patients whose kidneys are no longer functional. Our kidneys are the main component of the renal system, which filters wastes and excess water from our bodies. While not common, in some cases illness and prolonged or chronic disease reduces the functionality of these vital organs. We’ll explore the procedure of dialysis in this article and provide information to answer the most common questions associated with the topic.

In Balance of Excess

Urea is a common salt that our bodies need to dispose of in an orderly fashion. For most of us, this isn’t something we think about beyond the call of Nature. However, for those whose kidneys aren’t functioning at optimum capacity, it’s a matter of concern. Inefficient excretion and removal of this waste salt from the blood, among other products produced during the normal functions of life, can result in serious complications.

The kidneys work around the clock, filtering our blood of excess waste materials and fluid. But when kidney function drops to around ten or fifteen percent, individuals will experience symptoms such as swelling, nausea, vomiting, and unremitting fatigue. These are the first signs that all is not working as it should. Waste substances are building up in the bloodstream and the tissues of the body, which has a toxic effect.

But this is only one part of the kidneys’ role in our health. In addition to waste removal and filtration of up to 150 liters of blood each day, they also work to keep the levels of potassium, sodium, and phosphate in balance. They produce hormones that function to create red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, and works to reinforce human skeletal integrity. Dialysis is a mechanical imitation of the filtration aspect of the kidneys’ work.

Dialysis Explored

Candidates for dialysis are first fitted with an access to allow a machine to filter the blood. A physician makes an incision in the arm or leg of the patient, from which their blood is fed into the machine. An artificial kidney or dialyzer then performs filtration and circulates the blood back into the patient’s body.

There are two main parts to a dialysis machine. A thin membrane separates the patient’s blood from the dialysate, which is a sort of washing fluid. Essential proteins, red blood cells and other substances remain with the blood, because they cannot permeate this membrane. However, waste products like excess potassium, creatinine, urea, and excess fluids pass through and are eliminated.

Patients who undergo dialysis may do so at a hospital, a specialized center, or in their own homes. However, they are often required to follow a specialized diet designed to limit their intake of the waste products usually filtered out by the kidneys. The procedure is not comfortable, but it is lifesaving, and in many cases extends the lives of patients remarkably. In certain instances of sudden or acute kidney failure, dialysis is not required over a long period, but only as a means of supporting a distressed system.

Patients in need of this lifesaving treatment will work closely with one or more specialists who will be able to answer any questions or concerns they may have about undergoing the procedure or the changes they must make to their lives as a result. Because the technology of hemodialysis has progressed so markedly in the past few decades, renal failure of either chronic or acute nature need no longer be a terminal diagnosis, nor will patients be as severely limited by it as they were in the past.