What To Expect When You Begin Dialysis?
Spokesperson: Dr.Prashant C Dheerendra, Consultant Nephrologist, Apollo Dialysis clinics, Bangalore
Nearly one lakh patients undergo dialysis regularly in India, with a growing demand of 31% annually. The numbers of dialysis centers and patients requiring dialysis is increasing on a yearly basis.
Dialysis is a life-saving medical treatment for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. It performs a vital task in replacing some of the lost functions of our kidneys when required at the end stage of kidney disease. In simpler terms, dialysis is required when our kidneys lose 85% to 90% of the natural functioning process.
There are two kinds of dialysis treatment namely haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Before undergoing any of the medical procedures, consultation with a nephrologist is a must so that the doctor can study the medical condition of the patient and suggest the right procedure. Also, the patient can also understand the reason to undergo the treatment well.
The treatment takes four hours per session and generally is painless except for a few seconds at the beginning.
While the process of dialysis is pain-free, some people might have a few side-effects when they begin dialysis for the first time. The first few weeks should be monitored closely by doctors.
Here are five symptoms that occur when you begin dialysis:
- Muscle Cramps: During haemodialysis, patients suffer from muscle cramps especially in their lower leg region. The reason for suffering from the muscle cramps is due to the loss of fluid or the mineral imbalance in one’s body. Low levels of sodium, potassium, iron, and calcium can also play a role in producing muscle cramps in the body.
- Itchy Skin: While undergoing dialysis treatment, patients often suffer from itchy skin or unwanted rashes. The accumulation of the waste products in our blood can cause itching and restless legs syndrome can be another potential reason behind an itchy sensation in the legs. Doctors need to be consulted for proper medications that can soothe the skin or moisturize the itchy regions.
- Infection: Patients receiving hemodialysis are at a higher risk of developing sepsis. Frequent insertion of needles and catheters can increase the chance of being exposed to a bacterial infection which doubles the possibility of getting infected by such an infection. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, the patient can develop sepsis which means blood poisoning. The following condition can cause multiple organ failures.
- Low Blood Pressure: Low blood pressure or hypotension is one of the common side-effects noticed during a dialysis procedure among patients. It can be caused due to a drop in the fluid levels in our body. The patient experiences dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, and so on when the blood pressure drops.
- Weight Gain: The dialysate fluid used during the peritoneal dialysis contains sugar molecules which can increase the calorie consumption in a normal human body. If the extra calorie intake is not compensated by proper exercises or a recommended diet, the patient can gain weight. Unusual weight gain should be addressed by a medical expert.
Adjusting to life on dialysis can be challenging at times. There are several lifestyle changes that can help us undergo the procedure in an easy way helping us to be on the right track. Following a healthy diet, exercising regularly and good rest are a few requisites which can help to reduce the uneasiness. Also, being in touch with a medical expert is important to guide the treatment.