What Should I Expect During Dialysis?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 February 2019
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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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


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