Going For Your First Dialysis: What You Should Know

Dialysis treatment

My uncle, unfortunately, was diagnosed with 85% of his kidney failing to function and had developed the last stage of kidney failure. The doctors recommended that he better start with his dialysis to improve life expectancy. There had been a lot of uncertainty going on in the family before everyone agreed to the decision of dialysis. The nephrologist my uncle consulted with was an experienced one and had prepared my uncle very well mentally what he could expect in the few days post his first dialysis.

My uncle had the habit of maintaining a journal and he documented every physical and mental hurdle he faced before and after his first dialysis. So, this post is a personal account of someone and I would like to share it with all so that you can know how to prepare yourself and what you should know before you go for your first dialysis.

When is dialysis administered?

To know about what to expect in a dialysis, you must first know when a doctor recommends dialysis to a patient.

Dialysis is usually administered when a patient’s kidney has stopped functioning properly barring a 10-15% of its normal function and is on the verge of failure. Dialysis helps to filter and purify the blood with a machine to keep bodily fluids and electrolytes in balance.

Dialysis takes place when the kidney ceases to perform its function and blood, toxins and fluids start accumulating in the body.

So, here’s a detailed account of what you must know when you go for your first dialysis.

When you are first ushered into the dialysis room where all the machines are kept, the nurses will record your weight to know how much fluid retention you have. Based on that, treatment for dialysis starts. A patient must be aware of these and they must feel free to ask their doctor any questions:

Are there any possible risks associated with dialysis?

Any sort of treatment always has associated risks. Dialysis also includes certain health risks:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Anaemia
  • Cramping in muscles
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Itchy skin
  • Sepsis
  • Bloodstream infection
  • High blood potassium levels
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Sudden cardiac death

(Know about Naturally control low blood pressure)

What are the alternative treatments to dialysis?

Dialysis is an expensive and expensive treatment and everyone cannot afford it. Your doctor may prescribe you alternative treatment options to manage your failing kidneys.

  • Anaemia management – With an almost failed kidney, it is impossible to produce the hormone EPO naturally. You can get an injection of this hormone once a week.
  • Maintaining blood pressure – By maintaining a healthy blood pressure level, you can slow the deterioration of your kidneys. Your doctor will prescribe you oral drugs to do that.
  • Kidney transplant – If a patient does not want to go for a dialysis, the doctor also recommends a kidney transplant operation. But it is not always a good option for everyone, especially, if they smoke, is a drinker, is obese or has an untreated mental condition.

How to prepare for dialysis?

Before the first dialysis session, the doctor performs a small surgery to implant a tube or device into your bloodstream. Besides this, you may also require to fast for some time before the treatment.

Is there a chance of kidneys getting better after dialysis?

That is subjective depending on the severity of the kidney problem. In some cases, the kidney can repair themselves on its own and dialysis serves as a temporary treatment. But if you have a chronic kidney disease; there is a rare chance of the kidneys getting better and dialysis become s permanent option for better health.

Should there be any dietary changes while on dialysis?

Your nephrologist will recommend you to a dietitian to guide you with dietary choices. You must limit potassium, phosphorus, and sodium intake that includes vegetable juice and sports drinks. You must also keep a track of how much fluid you are consuming. Certain fruits and veggies have a lot of water content on them, so you need to be extra vigilant when having fruits and veggies.

Take care of your health and always consult your doctor if you wish to stop dialysis treatment. 

Also, Read:

How to Self-Diagnose If You Have Kidney Stones


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