What is dialysis?
Dialysis is an artificial procedure that is done to remove waste products and excess fluids from the body when the kidneys’ functionality is impaired. In a healthy individual, the kidneys are normally able to remove wastes and excess fluids naturally but in a case of kidney failure, the wastes and excess fluids have to be artificially removed from the body.
Dialysis can be performed on those who have temporary kidney failure as a result of illness and those who have permanent kidney failure as a result of chronic renal disease.
Types of dialysis
There are two types of dialysis namely hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
Hemodialysis involves filtration of waste products and minerals from the blood through a machine outside of the body. An opening is created on the body and then a catheter is inserted into a vein within the opening to draw out blood. The blood then goes through the machine that is fitted with special filters which filter it. The filtered blood is then returned to the body through another catheter.
Peritoneal dialysis involves the use of a catheter to filter waste products from the blood through the abdominal lining. A fluid known as dialystate is pumped into the stomach to draw out wastes from the bloodstream. A minor operation is conducted to fix a catheter into the abdomen.
Why is dialysis important?
Dialysis helps in ensuring that waste products do not accumulate inside the body upto harmful levels in people with renal failure. Kidneys usually filter upto 1500 liters of blood daily. In the case where the kidneys are not working, waste products can accumulate in the blood upto levels that can cause coma and death.
Dialysis therefore helps to purify blood by removing waste products, salts, and extra water from it.
Benefits of dialysis
Even though many people may not be for dialysis because of its expensive cost and the health risks involved in the process, dialysis has a number of benefits to the patient on which it is performed. Here are some reasons why one should opt for dialysis in case of renal failure:
Dialysis maintains normal body function during kidney failure
Dialysis takes up the functions the kidneys would have done in the body when kidney failure occurs. It ensures that salts, waste products, and excess fluids do not accumulate in the blood and cause poisoning. The body therefore gets to function as normal as its possible while the kidneys are damaged or under repair.
Dialysis improves the overall health of a patient
Having the blood cleansed frequently through dialysis helps to improve a kidney patient’s general wellbeing compared to when they aren’t undergoing dialysis. Purification of the blood removes toxins and chemicals which can lead to poor health. A patient on dialysis is able to continue with day to day activities such as going to work and school.
Dialysis gives a patient more freedom on diet
As opposed to kidney patients who are not undergoing dialysis whose diet is restricted, patients on dialysis have more freedom on the choice of their diet as most of the wastes and electrolytes from the meals can be artificially removed. One however still has to take into consideration the potassium and phosphorus content of their meals while undergoing dialysis.
Dialysis reduces the risk of heart diseases
Overnight dialysis has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Scientists have found that coronary endothelial responsiveness partially improves with overnight dialysis. Improvement in the functionality of the inner lining of the arteries in turns leads to lower risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.