The kidneys are among the most important organs in our bodies. Their main function is to filter blood in order to get rid of waste. Unfortunately, the kidneys are prone to diseases that stop the purification from happening. The kidneys are so important that, just like the heart, they have their own holiday in March. National Kidney Month
is designed to raise awareness on kidney health and help people recognize the serious medical problems that can arise when they’re neglected.
What is Dialysis?
Dialysis is essentially a mechanical substitute for a kidney. The machine pulls the blood out of a patient’s body, treats it to remove all of the compounds that a healthy kidney will eliminate and then pumps it back into the circulatory system. That can take a long time because it is only safe to process a little bit of blood at once. Waste accumulates quickly, so most people will need to go through the process several times each week.
The process usually isn’t too painful, but it can involve some discomfort and feelings of illness. The bigger problem is the inconvenience of going to a hospital to get the treatment every few days. Fortunately, there is an alternative to traditional dialysis in a hospital that is appropriate for some patients.
Handling it at Home
Some patients can opt for a home dialysis procedure. They go through the procedure with the help of a partner in the comfort of their own home. That makes it much more convenient and makes the scheduling more flexible.
There are a few different kinds of home dialysis. The traditional treatment is available, but some people can use a shorter version that they perform more frequently, or even go through the treatment overnight.
The comfort of undergoing dialysis at home can do a lot to improve a person’s quality of life while they are being treated, but it does require the patient and their partner to go through a lot of training. That is why it is important to discuss each treatment option with a doctor who is familiar with dialysis in order to make the right choice.
A Focus on Kidney Health
National Kidney Month exists to draw attention to diseases of the kidney. That type of awareness is important because many of the people who are in the early stages of kidney disease have no symptoms. In those cases, early detection and treatment is only an option for people who get tested for kidney disease.
We encourage people to talk to their doctors to decide if they need to get tested. In general, people who suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or have a family history of kidney failure will want to check for kidney problems. The most common tests involve checking blood or urine for compounds that they should be removing. These tests allow us to both check for kidney disease and track how the kidneys perform over time.
Those who do suffer from kidney disease will need to seek treatment to try and prevent it from getting worse and to make up for their reduced kidney performance. Some people will need transplants, but that isn’t always an immediate option. Many treatment plans will also rely on dialysis.
If you need to get tested or treated and are looking for a team of experienced physicians who specialize in comprehensive and compassionate care, reach out to us.