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Understanding the Concept of Dialysis

Dialysis is carried out in patients whose kidney/kidneys have stopped functioning normally. External support helps perform the functions of the kidney. It helps patients with kidney failure to lead a normal and productive life. Certain vital functions performed by kidneys include regulation of fluid balance, removal of waste products like urea and uric acid. When the kidneys fail to function properly, the waste products build up and eventually lead to sickening feeling called “uremia”. This is when doctors recommend dialysis.

An initial confirmation of kidney failure include measurement of two major blood chemical levels namely “creatinine level” and the “blood urea nitrogen” (BUN) level. Increasing levels of these two chemicals indicates decreasing functional ability of the kidneys to cleanse the body of waste products. Another urine test called “creatinine clearance”, is helps in further validating their findings.

Dialysis is usually of two types: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

Hemodialysis

It utilizes special filters for removal of excess waste products and water from the blood. It involves detailed procedure of insertion of a specialized plastic tube placed between an artery and a vein in the arm or leg. The blood passes from the patient’s body through the dialysis membrane. The waste product is received by a solution on the other side of the filter.

Peritoneal dialysis

This type of dialysis places a fluid into the patient’s abdominal cavity through a special plastic tube to remove excess waste products and fluid from the body. It utilizes patients own body tissues to act as the filter.

Both the procedures have their advantages and limitations. The final choice is made based on patient specific parameters and the feasibility with respect to his current condition. Regardless of the type of dialysis chosen, it is mandatory to follow a special diet , keeping a check on the diet, restricting their fluid intake and being religious with medicines to control blood pressure and phosphorus balance.  

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