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What Should I Expect During Dialysis?

During dialysis, expect a routine procedure where a machine filters waste from your blood, mimicking kidney function. You'll be seated comfortably, possibly feeling a slight pressure when connected. Sessions last a few hours, during which you can read or rest. Visualize the process with our detailed images. Curious about the nuances of this life-sustaining treatment? Dive deeper into our comprehensive guide.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Dialysis is a life-saving treatment that eliminates waste from the bloodstream. Used in the event of renal or kidney failure, people often are placed on dialysis while awaiting a kidney transplant or as a measure to augment the function of a failing kidney. If you are facing the prospect of undergoing dialysis, here are some ideas of what to expect during the treatments.

One of the most important things to remember is that the kidneys perform the essential function of removing impurities from the bloodstream. When a kidney no longer functions properly, the body is unable to rid itself of toxins and will begin to shut down. Because a buildup of toxins in the system can cause a great deal of pain and suffering, it is not unusual for dialysis to actually improve general well-being and ease some of the pain associated with renal failure.

A dialysis machine.
A dialysis machine.

However, the process of dialysis often leaves patients feeling extremely weak. This is only to be expected, as a single treatment may take as long as five hours. During that time, all blood is passed out of the body through tubing, filtered and cleansed, then carried back into the body by more tubing. The mechanics and duration of the procedure can be exhausting from an emotional point of view as well as physically exhausting.

Some patients experience nausea during dialysis.
Some patients experience nausea during dialysis.

While many patients experience little to no pain during the actual process, some do feel nausea, develop headaches, or undergo a drop in blood pressure that leaves them feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Most of the discomforts have to do with the extraction of liquids from the body. If the dialysis is progressing too rapidly, the removal of the fluids may cause some degree of trauma to the body, triggering the feelings of queasiness or nausea.

The dialysis procedure performs some of the functions of normal, healthy kidneys.
The dialysis procedure performs some of the functions of normal, healthy kidneys.

It is important to note that while dialysis does a credible job of clearing the bloodstream, the procedure is not as efficient as a set of kidneys. For this reason, choosing to avoid certain foods or limit the intake of certain nutrients will help to minimize the chances for experiencing aches and pains while receiving treatments. Your physician can provide guidelines of what you should eat, how to minimize the chances of developing infections, and how to deal with any ill effects properly.

A single treatment of dialysis can last as long as five hours and leave a patient feeling weak.
A single treatment of dialysis can last as long as five hours and leave a patient feeling weak.

While kidney diseases were once impossible to treat effectively, dialysis has allowed many people to live long enough to receive a transplant and have a new lease on life. In fact, people suffering with renal diseases are sometimes able to make use of dialysis for a number of years as they wait for a new kidney. Even with the potential for pain, fatigue, and other aches and pains, undergoing the procedure is usually much less painful than the slow poisoning of the system that would take place otherwise.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including TheHealthBoard, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including TheHealthBoard, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...

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    • A dialysis machine.
      By: beerkoff
      A dialysis machine.
    • Some patients experience nausea during dialysis.
      By: jedi-master
      Some patients experience nausea during dialysis.
    • The dialysis procedure performs some of the functions of normal, healthy kidneys.
      By: maya2008
      The dialysis procedure performs some of the functions of normal, healthy kidneys.
    • A single treatment of dialysis can last as long as five hours and leave a patient feeling weak.
      By: Tyler Olson
      A single treatment of dialysis can last as long as five hours and leave a patient feeling weak.