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Dialysis

Your kidneys play an important function in our body. When they are healthy, they can help generate urine and clean your blood. What's more, they can also make hormones that keep your internal environment stable and metabolism normal.

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Your kidneys play an important function in our body. When they are healthy, they can help generate urine and clean your blood. What's more, they can also make hormones that keep your internal environment stable and metabolism normal. Once your kidneys fail, you may need some treatments to replace the works of your kidneys. Unless your kidneys can recover, a treatment called dialysis is inevitable.

What is Dialysis?

Dialysis can remove wastes and excess fluid from our blood with the principles of the diffusion of solutes and ultrafiltration of fluid across a semi-permeable membrane. It is generally used when a person's kidney no longer function properly. This can be a result of congenital kidney disease, long-term diabetes, high blood pressure or other conditions.

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When should you start dialysis?

You should start dialysis usually when you lose about 85% to 90% of kidney function or you have some severe symptoms caused by your kidney diseases such as proteinuria, high blood pressure, edema, hematuria, etc. Then your doctor may suggest you dialysis, based on your lab reports which measure how much kidney function you have left.

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What does dialysis do?

Doing the works of healthy kidneys, dialysis keeps your body in balance and usually has three functions:

◆ helps to lower the high blood pressure

◆ removes waste, salt and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body

◆ keeps a normal level of your certain chemicals such as sodium, potassium and bicarbonate

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Are there different types of dialysis?

Yes, there are three types of dialysis –hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and colon dialysis.

What is hemodialysis and which kind of patients can use it?

In hemodialysis, your blood is pumped through a hemodialyzer (an artificial kidney) and then waste, extra chemicals and fluid can be removed out of your body. The semipermeable membrane which is used by hemodialyzer is about 10-20 microns, so hemodialysis can remove the small medium substances and a part of medium molecular substance, while protein, pyrogen, viruses, bacteria and blood cells all exist in your body. Not every patient can be treated by hemodialysis and it can be used by patients with the following disease:

◆ end-stage renal disease (ESRD)

◆ acute kidney damage

◆ the poisoning of some drugs or toxins

◆ serious water, electrolyte and acid-base balance disorders

◆ other disease like serious high fever

What is peritoneal dialysis and which kind of patients can use it?

In this type of dialysis, your blood can be cleaned inside your body. To make an entrance, your doctor will do surgery to place a plastic tube called catheter into your abdomen. During the treatment, your abdominal area is gradually filled with dialysate through the catheter. Extra fluid and waste are drawn out of your blood and into the dialysate. This type of dialysis is more suitable for those patients:

◆ the elderly patients whose age is more than 65 years old

◆ patients with cardiovascular diseases such as angina pectoris, recurrence of myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, cardiac arrhythmia, etc

◆ high blood pressure, low blood pressure or cardiac failure

◆ children

◆ the patient who can't choose any type of hemodialysis

◆ diabetics with fundus lesions or peripheral neuropathy

◆ the patient has obvious bleeding

What is colon dialysis and which kind of patients can use it?

Colon dialysis, through injecting filtered water into your colon, removes the toxins and clears your colon. Fully expanding the contact area of the colonic mucosa and filtered water, colon dialysis can play the function of your kidneys and makes the waste removed out of body timely. The following patients can use this type of dialysis.

◆ kidney disease patients in the early stage or middle stage

◆ high blood pressure

◆ the patient with edema

◆ acute hyperuricemia

◆ the patients who can't pay the high cost of other dialysis or are not suitable for hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis

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Will dialysis help cure the kidney disease?

No, dialysis just can remove the waste of your blood and do some works of your kidneys, but it won't help to cure your kidney disease. The reason is that dialysis can't block the progression of your kidney damage or repair your damaged kidney function. You will need to have dialysis treatment for your whole life unless you are able to find another treatment to repair your kidney or get a kidney transplant.

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How long can the patient live on dialysis?

You can live at least five years if your dialysis is adequate and your complications are remitted. But this time will change according to the patients' condition and dialysis environment. Accepting dialysis too late, overwork and some severe complications will shorten the lifespan. The hypertensive or elder patients may live two years.

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Dialysis may cause some side effects

The dialysis itself is painless, but it can cause some side effects or complications such as low blood pressure, inbalance syndrome, dialyzer infection, cardiac failure, muscle spasm, vomit and headache. If these complications happen, the doctor should take some measures to treat the patient. Some of them can be remitted effectively and others can be avoided.

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Can dialysis have a pause?

Whether dialysis can have a pause or not should depend on your condition. Generally, it can't be stop, because the dialysis can replace some kidney functions rather than repairing the damaged kidney. If your kidneys can't do their works normally, wastes and toxins will build up in your body and you have to count on dialysis for the rest of your lives.

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Should patients on dialysis control their diets?

Of course, a healthy diet can help you to fight against your kidney disease. Dialysis patients should limit the intake of salt, protein, water, ect. Stopping smoking and drinking are also necessary for you. Eating more vegetables but less meat can be helpful to control your weight.

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