What is Dialysis?
Your kidneys help filter waste, excess fluid and toxins from your blood. They are also important for blood cell production and bone health. If kidneys don't work properly, harmful substances build up in the body, blood pressure can rise and too much fluid can collect in the body's tissues, which leads to swelling.
If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to take over their job. Kidney dialysis is a life-support treatment that uses a special machine to filter harmful wastes, salt and excess fluid from your blood. This restores the blood to a normal, healthy balance.
What to Expect
During hemodialysis, you will be hooked up to a machine that takes over the kidneys' job of filtering blood. During the session, your blood flows a little bit at a time through a special filter inside the hemodialysis machine. The filter removes wastes and extra fluids from your blood, but retains the proper balance of minerals such as potassium and sodium. Once the blood is cleaned, it is returned to the body.
Patients often need dialysis treatments several times a week. How long each hemodialysis session lasts depends on:
- How well your kidneys work
- How much fluid you gained since your last dialysis session
- How much waste has gathered in your blood since your last dialysis session
- Your weight
- The type of hemodialysis machine being used