Dialysis - Experience

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What is dialysis?

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from the blood. Dialysis is a procedure that is a substitute for many of the normal duties of the kidneys. The kidneys are two organs located on either side of the back of the abdominal cavity. Dialysis can allow individuals to live productive and useful lives, even though their kidneys no longer work adequately. Statistics from 2007 showed approximately 389,000 patients were reveiving dialysis in the United states. At the end of 2009, more than 871,000 people were being treated for end stage renal disease.

Dialysis helps the body by performing the functions of failed kidneys. The kidney has many roles. An essential job of the kidney is to regulate the body's fluid balance. It does this by adjusting the amount of urine that is excreted on a daily basis. On hot days, the body sweats more. Thus, less water needs to be excreted through the kidneys. On cold days, the body sweats less. Thus, urine output needs to be greater in order to maintain the proper balance within the body. It is the kidney's job to regulate fluid balance by adjusting urine output.

Another major duty of the kidney is to remove the waste products that the body produces throughout the day. As the body functions, the cells use energy. The operation of the cells produces waste products that must be removed from the body. When these waste products are not removed adequately, they build up in the body. An elevation of waste products, as measured in the blood, is called "azotemia." When waste products accumulate they, cause a sick feeling throughout the body called "uremia."

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See what others are saying

Comment from: taylornibbler, 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: January 10

My mother gets dialysis 3 times a week and she is having severe muscle cramps in her legs. I am trying to find what she can do during dialysis to help alleviate or lessen the cramps. She is 80 years old and has other conditions, if there is something to help with the cramps it may make her time in dialysis less stressful.

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Comment from: lizzyroo, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: October 31

My mother was on hemodialysis for 13 years. She was in her late 60s when she got diagnosed. We knew nothing about kidney failure. She was sick for a week, then she went to the hospital, stayed for a week and then we were told she would have to start dialysis the following week. She had a positive attitude from the beginning. That makes a difference because there are a lot of things that must be followed in order for you to stay healthy during your treatments. For an older person I think hemodialysis is best. My mom did great as she progressed with her treatments. She was even able to drive herself to and from the treatments for a while. I was there to support throughout the whole process. Family support means a whole lot also.

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