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Home » Kidney Diagnosis & Treatment » What is Dialysis?
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What is Dialysis?

Dialysis is a process of helping patients to eliminate waste and excess fluids by filtering their blood. When kidneys fail or stop working properly, dialysis is used for diverting blood into a machine for cleaning and keeping the body system chemically well-balanced.

Usually, the kidneys help in filtering the blood while removing unwanted products and excess fluids by turning them into urine form to be passed out of the human body. Dialysis procedure can take care of regular kidney function( artificially) and, along with medication and regular care, it enable patients to live a longer and healthier life.

Therefore, this medical procedure is used for treating several people with severe kidney issues.

Why is dialysis used?

Kidneys prevent excessive water, waste and impurities from getting accumulated within the body. It also helps controlling blood pressure and regulating the level of some chemical substances found in the blood. Some of these elements are potassium and sodium. Human kidneys also activate a type of vitamin D that further improves the calcium absorption in the body.

However, if kidneys won’t work properly due to an injury or disease, dialysis can help keep the body function normally. Without dialysis procedure, the waste products and salts cannot be removed from the body and thus, lead to damage to kidneys and other organs.

Therefore, dialysis is recommended for patients with failed kidneys or improperly functioning kidneys.

What are the different types of dialysis?

There are two types of dialysis procedures – Hemodialysis and Peritoneal dialysis. Both these types are useful in filtering unwanted waste from the bloodstream.  According to the type of dialysis chosen by the doctor, a patient can be cured in a hospital or at the comfort of their home.


Hemodialysis helps in filtering out the blood through a dialysis machine. When a patient is connected to a hemodialysis machine, the blood flows into that machine and gets filtered and further returns to the body. One can choose where they want to do hemodialysis – either in a medical centre or at home. In-centre hemodialysis is performed by skilled technicians and nurses. On the other hand, at-home hemodialysis is done by a family member.

Peritoneal dialysis

This procedure uses blood vessels present in the abdominal lining (body’s natural filter), along with a dialysate solution for filtering blood using a peritoneal catheter. With this method, the patient’s blood is not required to leave their body. At-home peritoneal dialysis can be done manually or using a machine.

The dialysis treatment is often prescribed by a specialised doctor and performed by the trained medical staff. Together, the doctor and the patient discuss the suitable treatment options and find out which one is the best. If a patient wants to go on dialysis, their doctor schedules the treatment time and frequency of dialysis as per their unique health requirements. It is essential to complete your dialysis procedure as prescribed to improve your health.

Are there any risks associated with dialysis?

 Following are the risks associated with hemodialysis:

  • Anaemia (lack of red blood cells in the body)
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramping
  • Uneasiness
  • Itching
  • Sepsis
  • High blood potassium levels
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Bacteraemia, a condition leading to bloodstream infection
  • Pericarditis, a condition causing inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart
  • Sudden cardiac arrest that leads to the death of a person undergoing dialysis
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Restless legs
  • Apnea or small gaps in breathing
  • Fluid overload, so patients are recommended to have a limited amount of fluid every day

Risks associated with peritoneal dialysis treatment

Peritoneal dialysis has a higher risk of infections within or around the catheter site, which is present within the abdominal cavity. For instance, once the catheter is implanted, a patient can experience peritonitis. Peritonitis is an infection of the abdominal wall lining.

Other associated risks are:

  • Weight gain
  • Abdominal muscle weakening
  • Hernia
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • High blood sugar because of the presence of dextrose in the dialysate solution

How do I prepare for dialysis?

First, you need to accept that you are suffering from this condition. If you’re mentally prepared for dialysis, you can combat the issue and recover faster.

Before the first dialysis treatment, a doctor performs surgery to implant a device or a tube for gaining access to the bloodstream. It is a quick procedure and the patient is discharged the same day.

It is best to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully. Some of the instructions may include fasting before treatment, wearing comfortable clothing during dialysis treatment, etc.

Moreover, being consistent with dialysis will reduce the chances of a kidney transplant.

Stopping dialysis:

When you’re considering stopping your dialysis, your doctor will check your blood pressure and weight. This is done to figure out the effectiveness of dialysis treatment.

Before stopping this procedure, also mention any concerns to the specialist. It is best to consult a medical healthcare professional before stopping such life-saving treatments. In case the condition that may lead to kidney failure has not been cured, stopping dialysis may cause death.

So, don’t just think of stopping the dialysis treatment anytime you feel like. Consult the experienced dialysis specialists at Shalby

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