How Does Dialysis Treatment Work?

If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with kidney disease, you probably have a lot of questions, concerns and worry. While being told you have kidney disease is never welcome news, dialysis is a treatment that can help. Dialysis replaces the many vital functions of the kidneys and restores your blood to a normal, healthy state.

What do kidneys do?

Healthy kidneys work hard day and night to filter out harmful waste and excess fluid from the blood. This process keeps your blood healthy and you body functioning properly. Every day, these bean-shaped organs process 120 to 150 quarts of blood and produce approximately one to two quarts of urine. They are also responsible for regulating the amount of sodium, phosphorus and potassium in your body.

How does dialysis treatment work?

Dialysis is an artificial replacement for lost kidney function and is often used as a holding measure until a kidney transplant can be performed. Dialysis can help otherwise healthy people live full and active lives.

Before beginning dialysis treatments, your doctor will insert a fistula or catheter into your vein to help your blood to flow more easily from your body to the dialysis machine. Before your treatment, your doctor may give you a numbing medicine to eliminate any discomfort you may feel while the needle is inserted into the fistula or catheter. The needles are essential because they create a complete loop through the pump and filter of the dialysis machine.

What happens during dialysis treatment?

Your blood will flow from your body through the dialysis machine and back again. The process generally takes about three hours per session. Your blood pressure, weight and temperature will be taken before and after the procedure to confirm enough waste has been removed and you are in a condition that is suitable for leaving the facility.

Your doctor will then turn on the pump of the dialysis machine and set a timer. About every half hour your blood pressure will be taken to ensure it does not become too low. Low blood pressure can occur when too much fluid is removed from the blood.

What happens after treatment?

Following treatment, you may experience fatigue or physical weakness. This may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours. To help avoid or limit any fatigue and physical weakness, you may need to lengthen the time between your dialysis treatments. Lengthening the time in between dialysis treatments will help remove waste more slowly and lessen the severity of any side effects.

While dialysis can be uncomfortable, it’s a necessary treatment for those suffering from kidney disease or kidney failure. If you’re interested in learning more about dialysis treatment or in-home dialysis treatment, please contact experienced doctors at South Texas Renal Care Group. We are ready to support your kidney health and provide compassionate care during your dialysis treatments. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at 844-739-2897.

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Understanding Kidney Dialysis

What is kidney dialysis?

Kidney dialysis is a treatment used to filter harmful wastes and excess fluid from the blood when the kidneys cannot do it on their own. Dialysis takes the place of many vital kidney functions and restores the blood to a normal, healthy state.

Who needs kidney dialysis?

People who suffer from conditions such as kidney disease and kidney failure have difficulty with normal kidney function. When the kidneys don’t work properly, severe and sometimes fatal consequences can occur. Harmful substances can build up in the body, blood pressure can increase, and excess fluid can gather in the body’s tissues. Dialysis is usually recommended when you’ve lost about 85 to 90 percent of your kidney function.

Types of kidney dialysis

There are two types of kidney dialysis. These include:


Hemodialysis uses a machine to filter the blood properly. Prior to your first hemodialysis session, an entrance to one of your blood vessels is created, called vascular access. This allows the body to be connected to the dialysis machine. The blood is removed a little at a time and then returned when it’s clean. Dialysis treatments are usually scheduled a few times each week.

Peritoneal dialysis

Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood using the lining of the abdominal region as a filter. This method allows for the blood to be cleaned while performing normal daily tasks like sleeping or working.

Similar to hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis requires a procedure to create access to clean the blood. Through a small incision, a flexible catheter is inserted into the abdominal area that envelops the stomach and organs, also called the peritoneal cavity.

Once the procedure is complete, you will be instructed how to place the cleaning solution (dialysate) into the catheter. The treatment has three main steps:

  • Fill – The cleaning solution moves through the catheter into the abdominal region.
  • Dwell – Waste products and extra fluid in the blood flow through the thin tissue that lines the peritoneal cavity and are extracted into the cleaning solution. This process takes anywhere from four to six hours.
  • Drain – The wastes and extra fluid are removed from the body by draining the cleaning solution.

There are two options to peritoneal dialysis:

  • Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) – The dialysis solution is placed directly into the catheter, allowing you to go about your everyday activities.
  • Continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) – A machine is used to fill and drain the cleaning solution from your abdominal region, usually conducted while you sleep.

You don’t have to tackle kidney disease and kidney failure on your own. The physicians at South Texas Renal Care Group are here to provide experienced, compassionate care for you during this difficult time. Call (210) 390-0944 to make your appointment today.

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National Kidney Month: Are You At Risk For Kidney Disease?

What is kidney disease?
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering excess fluid and waste from the blood, to be disposed of in your urine. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys can no longer filter these substances on their own, leading to dangerously high levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes building up in the body. This can result in serious complications that can sometimes be fatal. With March being National Kidney Month, it’s important to understand the risk factors associated with kidney disease.

Symptoms of kidney disease
Early stages of kidney disease may only exhibit a few signs or symptoms. Because of this, your kidney function may already be significantly impaired without your knowledge. Symptoms develop over time and may include:

  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Urine changes
  • Inhibited mental function
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps and twitches
  • Foot and ankle swelling
  • Constant itching
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hiccups

Symptoms and signs of kidney disease can be nonspecific, which means they can also be the result of other conditions. And because the kidneys are resilient and able to compensate for impaired function, signs and symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.

Are you at risk?
There are a number of risk factors associated with kidney disease. Kidney disease is often the result of another disease or condition that impairs kidney function, with damage worsening over time. Diseases and conditions that can increase your risk for kidney disease are:

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Polycystic kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s filters)
  • Interstitial nephritis (inflammation of the kidney’s tubules and surrounding structures)
  • Vesicoureteral reflux (urine backup in the kidneys)
  • Recurrent kidney infections (pyelonephritis)
  • Prolonged urinary tract blockage caused by conditions like kidney stones, enlarged prostate, and some cancers

Further, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing kidney disease. These factors include:

  • Family history of kidney disease
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Ethnic backgrounds such as African-American, Native American or Asian-American

Treating kidney disease
Complications resulting from kidney disease can be severe and even fatal. Your treatment will depend on the cause and severity of your individual case. In less severe cases, kidney disease complications can be controlled to make you more comfortable. In more advanced stages of kidney disease, your kidneys can no longer keep up with waste and fluid clearance on their own. At this phase, more aggressive treatments are used, such as dialysis and kidney transplants.

The physicians and staff at South Texas Renal Care Group are committed to the health and treatment of your kidneys. If you have recently been diagnosed with kidney disease, or are experiencing symptoms of kidney disease call (210) 390-0944 to schedule an appointment today.

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