How Does Dialysis Treatment Work?

How Does Dialysis Treatment  Work?

Who Is Dialysis Treatment For?

Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure that wastes your body of unwanted toxins, fluids and waste products. It filters your blood to further rid the body of excess liquids in order to allow it to release the remaining waste into the dialysis machine.

What Is Dialysis Treatment Like?

Most patients have no other problems when the dialysis treatment is given. They are mostly painless and can help patients keep up with their treatment. However, some symptoms such as a drop in their blood pressure might occasionally be seen.

You may feel nauseous, vomit or have a headache with persistent symptoms. With proper medication, these symptoms typically go away.

What are the 2 types of dialysis?

There are 2 different forms of dialysis: peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis. They both remove waste from the bloodstream, but those who receive treatment at home may have options for how they're treated.

What is hemodialysis?

Hemodialysis is a process of removing impurities from your blood, via a machine called a hemodialyzer or (artificial kidney). Once you are connected to the machine, blood flows into the device and gets filtered back into your body. This remaining blood is returned to your body via an access (entrance) created afterwards.

There are different locations for hemodialysis treatments. In-center hemodialysis is performed by a team of nurses and technicians. You can also have at-home hemodialysis with the help of techs that know what they're doing. This treatment can be performed in your home with the comfort of an individual doctor's care.

[caption id="attachment_4156" align="alignnone" width="1024"]dialysis dialysis treatment chair[/caption]

How long is dialysis treatment?

The length of time needed for dialysis treatment depends on:

  • Your body size

  • The amount of fluid weight you gain between treatments

  • How much waste you have in your body

  • How well your kidneys work

  • Type of artificial kidney being used

Hemodialysis usually lasts about 4 hours, but a type of hemodialysis called High-Flux dialysis may take less time. Most patients on hemodialysis need to get treatment three times a week. This is something that people should discuss with their doctor to see if it's appropriate for them.

What is peritoneal dialysis?

Peritoneal dialysis uses the blood vessels in your abdominal lining to do the job of filtering blood through a peritoneal catheter; this leaves your body with no risk of leaving it. It mainly functions as a filter and removes waste products from your blood & allows them to exit through your bowels. After a set period of time, these wasted products become fluid instead of staying within the body. PD can be done with a machine or manually at home, at work or even while traveling.

What are the different types of peritoneal dialysis?

Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) and Automated Peritoneal Dialysis (APD) are two types of peritoneal dialysis. They are continuously in use every day to clean the blood of excess fluids.

Although high-efficiency machines are available, CAPD is the only type of peritoneal dialysis done without machines. It is typically done four or five times a day at home or work. You insert a dialysate bag into the catheter and put it in your peritoneal cavity for about four or five hours. After it has done its job, you pull up on the plunger to let the fluid drain back into the bag and then throw it away. This is called a U-change. When you change a bag of dialysate, you will likely feel fluid moving in and out of your peritoneal cavity. You can continue with your normal activities.

Often used in the home setting, an APD Automated Peritoneal Dialysis machine is similar to CAPD except it has many cycles, lasting up to 1-1/2 hours and done throughout treatment.

How long can you live while on dialysis?

If you are told that your kidneys have failed, you may need to have dialysis treatments for a long time. You might also be able to receive a kidney transplant after you are on dialysis for some time. The process of finding the right kidney donor can take quite some time and sometimes it doesn't happen at all. Life expectancy on dialysis will depend on how well. Average life expectancy for someone on dialysis is around 5-10 years, but many individuals have lived well for 20 or even 30 years. It's important to stay as healthy as possible while undergoing dialysis.

A doctor will determine the treatment time and frequency based on your medical history. Together, you and your doctor will review the treatment options and get a sense that what's best for you. To keep a successful experience, follow your doctor's instructions exactly.

What is chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when the kidneys do not filter liquids from your blood correctly. This can cause a buildup of waste products in the body, which can lead to complications like hypertension and high cholesterol levels. It is more common among people who are over the age of 50.

CKD is a chronic kidney disease that can cause many complications as well as affect the overall quality of life for the patient. It’s an issue that most people are unaware of because it doesn’t have any symptoms at first. When symptoms do appear they usually aren’t serious enough to warrant an immediate trip to the hospital while they are still manageable. This makes it difficult for people to know when they should be alarmed.

What causes chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is caused by glomerular hypertension, or high blood pressure in the glomerulus. This means that the kidneys are not able to filter what comes into the body and eliminate waste product at a normal rate. This results in damage to many tissues and organs in the body including the brain, heart, lungs, eyes, muscles and joints.

The leading risk factors for chronic kidney disease are high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes mellitus type 2, obesity and family history of chronic kidney disease (FHDK). The prognosis for patients with chronic kidney disease varies from person to person depending on what causes the condition and how difficult it was for them to treat.

What are the symptoms of chronic kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which the kidneys are not able to filter waste from the blood. This leads to high levels of creatinine, urea, and uric acid inside the body. The symptoms of CKD can vary and appear over time.

Signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease may include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fatigue and weakness

  • Increase/decrease in urine production

  • Sleep issues

  • Decrease in mental awareness

  • Muscle cramps and twitching

  • Swelling of feet and ankles

  • Persistent itching

  • Chest pain

  • High blood pressure

Best diet for kidney dialysis patients

If you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, it is a condition that requires special care. The best way to take care of your EDS is by knowing how much blood & nutrients you're taking in, what types of food & drinks you're consuming, and the level of effort. You can also prevent clots or complications with EDS.

Diet is really a personal decision that should be tailored to the needs of the patient. There are many considerations and treatment plans to consider when it comes to dietary habits. Most people on dialysis need to limit:

  • Potassium

  • Phosphorus

  • Fluids

  • Sodium


Potassium is one of the major minerals that you will find in your body. It's required for many processes to occur such as muscle contraction and heart rate. Too much potassium can lead to hyperkalemia, a condition that can be dangerous or even fatal.

Having many different side effects of electrolyte imbalance on your body can make dialysis a challenging process for patients. Not only are they at risk of having muscle cramps, weakness and irregular heartbeat, but they also have an increased risk for a heart attack. Patients should check with their medical providers about what potassium levels are considered too high or low as well as about how to reduce


Phosphorus is found in many foods and works with calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones healthy. Healthy kidneys can maintain the right balance of phosphorus in your body. When you are on dialysis, phosphorus can build up in your blood. Having too much phosphorus can lead to a condition called hyperphosphatemia. This can lead to bone disease, which causes weak bones that break easily. Limiting the amount of fiber you are taking in is the best course of action in order to prevent this problem. When starting a diet, it's important to speak with your dietitian about the amount of protein & fiber you should be eating on a daily basis.


When you're on dialysis, it's important that there are not too many fluids in your body--too much fluid can cause swelling in the lungs, blood pressure problems, heart failure and a variety of other ills. Keep your fluid levels down by drinking plenty of water and being active.

If you need to limit fluids, cut back on how much you drink, and eat less foods that contain a lot of water. Soups and foods with a lot of water in them, such as ice cream and gelatin are great choices.

If you're feeling thirsty but have limited water options available, then try these tricks to quench your thirst:

  • One of the main advantages of mouthwash is that it stays cold when you put them in the refrigerator shortly before you use it.

  • Chew gum.

  • Suck on a piece of ice, mints or hard candy to cool off.


Everyone needs some sodium. This chemical keeps your body's cells hydrated, balanced, and healthy. When your kidneys can't synthesize the sodium on its own or when you keep losing too much to the toilet, it has a way of building up in your bloodstream.

During a long dialysis session, your body might not let go of excess water. This can make your blood pressure too high and can cause problems during treatment. Limiting your sodium intake to a certain point can be beneficial in the long-term, allowing your blood pressure to remain in check and reducing the possibility of having too much fluid.

Speak with your dietitian about how much sodium you should have each day, and use these tips to limit sodium in your diet:

  • Don't add salt to your food when cooking or at the table. Try cooking with fresh herbs, lemon juice or salt-free spices.

  • You might want to avoid pickled foods, such as olives and pickles.

  • Limit high-sodium condiments including soy sauce, BBQ sauce and ketchup.

  • Try to choose fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned ones. If you do decide to use canned vegetables, drain them and rinse the excess salt off before cooking or eating them.

  • Reduce your intake of processed meats, like ham, bacon, sausages and lunch meat.

  • By eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, you can avoid consuming too many processed foods. You'll notice the health benefits that come along with this decision- less bloating, more energy levels, and an increase in metabolism.

Hemodialysis diet tip

Hemodialysis patients requiring treatment three times per week will need to restrict the intake of potassium, sodium and phosphorus (and also fluid intake).

Peritoneal dialysis diet tip

If you do peritoneal dialysis (PD), you may be able to take in slightly more phosphorus, potassium, sodium and fluid than if you did hemodialysis. You should also look for a diet that contains few carbs and high protein. This will help prevent the harmful effects of dehydration.

Patients with diabetes

If you have diabetes, be sure to work with your dietitian to make a diet that avoids the nutrients you need to limit while also controlling your blood sugar. If you do PD, keep in mind that PD solution has dextrose in it. Dextrose is a type of sugar found in both fruits and vegetables.

If you have diabetes, it is very important to know how to count the dextrose in your PD solution as extra sugar in your diet. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist if you have questions about that.

Kidney friendly recipes

Kidney Kitchen gives you a deep understanding of what specific nutrients mean for people with kidney disease as well as how common foods might contribute to that. It also discusses what healthy eating looks like throughout the stages of kidney disease so you can be your best self. Find recipes on Kidney Kitchen.

Please call Superior Compounding Pharmacy in Plymouth Michigan to speak with one of our licensed pharmacists today at 734-404-6065. We can help answer any medication questions that you may have.