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Living With Kidney Failure: What You Should Know About Dialysis

Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, MD · Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Red Ricafort · Updated Jun 21, 2023

Living With Kidney Failure: What You Should Know About Dialysis

Dialysis is a treatment that helps your kidneys when they are unable to function well. Your kidneys normally filter the wastes and extra fluids in your blood. If you or someone close to you is in need of this procedure, it is essential to know everything you need about it. Read on to learn more about dialysis.

What is dialysis?

When your kidneys are incapable of filtering your blood normally, this artificial treatment is needed to clear your blood of wastes and toxins before those are turned into urine.

When is it needed?

A person usually requires dialysis when they experience kidney failure. Kidney failure is commonly an effect of chronic kidney disease, which causes a gradual failure of your kidney function. Dialysis is needed once this failure disrupts your daily routines or living. By the time this treatment is required, only 10% of your kidney will be functioning.

What happens during dialysis?

This treatment is classified into 2 types.


The first is Hemodialysis, which is one method of treating advanced kidney failure.

This requires the use of a dialyser, or an artificial kidney. Blood is removed through a needle on your arm or groin, and filtered through the machine. Blood is then cycled back to your body after it is cleared. A person receiving this type of dialysis has to visit a treatment center several times a week, with 1 session lasting up to usually 4 hours.

Undergoing regular hemodialysis is a big responsibility but you will be assisted by your healthcare specialist. In some cases, this method may be done in your own home. Changes to your diet, constant medication, and a strict treatment schedule will also be needed.

Peritoneal Dialysis

Peritoneal Dialysis makes use of the peritoneal membrane lining your abdomen. This type allows filtering to take place inside your body.

A small cut will be made near your belly button where a thin tube called a catheter will be inserted and left there permanently. This will be used during the treatment, when fluid is transfused into your peritoneal cavity. As blood passes through the vessels in the cavity, it will be rid of wastes and excess fluids, which will flow into the fluid that was transfused in. This process is done 3-4 times a day, and compared to hemodialyis wherein you have to go to a dialysis center or hospital for your dialysis sessions, this can be done at home.

When is dialysis recommended?

A visit to your doctor would help determine if you are in need of dialysis. Some factors that your health care provider would consider are the following:

  • Your overall health
  • Current kidney function
  • Possible symptoms of kidney failure

Some symptoms of kidney failure that you should look out for are nausea, fatigue, and vomiting.

Once you’ve also experienced some of these common causes, a consultation with your healthcare provider should be considered. The common causes of kidney failure include:

  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • High blood pressure or Hypertension
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Certain infections that affect the kidneys
  • glomerulopathies

Risks and complications

Since dialysis involves the insertion of needles and tubes, people who are undergoing this treatment have a higher chance of getting an infection. Patients on dialysis usually have a weaker immune system due to the presence of several other illnesses or comorbidities that they have.

Receiving hemodialysis also may cause you to experience the following:

  • Anemia
  • High blood pressure/ low blood pressure
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Itchy skin
  • Muscle cramps
  • Depression
  • Potassium levels increase

When you start experiencing these, let your healthcare provider or specialist know so they can help you with the symptoms..

Key takeaway

Even though the procedure can has some risks and may cause complications, consulting your specialist will help you determine what treatment is best. The goal of undergoing dialysis is to help you bounce back to your daily activities. A lot of people who have experienced this treatment have had the chance to live a good and active life.

Learn more about Kidney Disease here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mia Dacumos, MD

Nephrology · Makati Medical Center

Written by Red Ricafort · Updated Jun 21, 2023

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