Life on Dialysis
Patients on the kidney waitlist must do dialysis in order to remove waste and extra fluid from their body, control blood pressure and help in the production of red blood cells. There are two types of dialysis. These including peritoneal dialysis and intermittent hemodialysis.
Hemodialysis works by using intravenous needling to filter the blood outside of the patient’s body, cleaning it through a machine (called a dialyzer) and then pumping it back into the body. This is typically done at a dialysis facility or sometimes at home.
Peritoneal dialysis is when the blood is cleaned inside the patient’s body. A fluid, called dialysate, is put into the abdomen to absorb waste from the blood and then is drained away. This type of dialysis is typically done at home.
Dialysis can cause many side effects. These can include- causing patients to feel extremely tired, anxiety and stress, experience low blood pressure, weight gain, hernias, itchy skin, sepsis, and cramping. Patients are encouraged to eat a healthy diet and track how much liquid they consume in a day.
Patients on dialysis live an average of 5-10 years, however, many patients have lived well on dialysis for 20-30 years. Patients will need to have dialysis treatments for their entire lives unless they are able to get a kidney transplant.