Is it Painful to Have Dialysis?

November 20, 2018

Is it Painful to Have Dialysis?

After a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease or renal failure, your doctor will usually recommend dialysis. Undergoing this necessary medical treatment will not only help improve your quality of life, but it will also help you survive until a kidney transplant can be performed.

If your doctor has recommended dialysis you may be concerned that this type of treatment is painful. Help prepare yourself to undergo this type of treatment by learning more about how you can expect to feel during and after dialysis.

The Entire Experience is Relatively Pain-Free

Undergoing dialysis treatment is an emotionally draining experience, but it is relatively pain-free. If you are undergoing hemodialysis, a form of the treatment that involves using a needle, you may experience a slight pinching sensation when the needle is inserted. A topical numbing medicine can be applied to the injection site to reduce any pain you may experience from the insertion of the needle.

Expect to See Improvements to Your Health After Starting Treatment

Unless you are experiencing other underlying health issues, you can expect to start seeing improvements to your health after starting treatment for chronic kidney disease or renal failure. Each person is different, but typically improvements in your health can be seen in approximately a week. However, it can take some people four to six weeks to see improvements.

Dialysis Treatment can Cause Some Side Effects

Just because the treatment is pain-free doesn’t mean you won’t experience any adverse side effects or symptoms after treatment. Some patients may experience uncomfortable side effects and symptoms from dialysis treatment. Luckily, these side effects and symptoms are relatively easy to manage.

Some of the side effects and symptoms you may experience after starting treatment for chronic kidney disease or renal failure include:

  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle cramps
  • Abdominal pain  
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Some things you can do to reduce your chances of experience some of these side effects and symptoms include:

  • Getting regular exercise while undergoing treatment
  • Follow all instructions given by your healthcare team especially any instructions involving limitations and restrictions to your diet or fluid intake
  • Follow your treatment schedule
  • Resume normal activities as soon as possible once you start treatment

If you experience any side effects or symptoms it is important to notify your healthcare team right away. Adjustments to your treatment plan can often reduce or eliminate many side effects and symptoms that you are experiencing.

Work with a Team of Experienced Healthcare Professionals for Treatment

The healthcare team at Associates in Nephrology has experience in making the dialysis experience as pain-free and symptom-free as possible. Call our office today to schedule an appointment to learn more about how we can help you while you seek treatment for chronic kidney disease or renal failure.

How Long Do You Have To Live If Your Kidneys Are Failing?

November 20, 2018

How Long Do You Have To Live If Your Kidneys Are Failing?

Renal failure – the medical term for failing kidneys – is a complex process that typically occurs over a period of months to years. Occasionally, an individual may develop acute renal failure, which occurs within a few days to a week. In either case, the condition may shorten your lifespan, especially if not treated. Here’s some information on how long you may live if your kidneys are failing, courtesy of Dr. Allen Lauer of Associates in Nephrology.

Renal Failure Basics

Kidney failure begins with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Damaged kidneys can’t filter the blood the way they are supposed to and waste products such as ammonia begin to build up in the bloodstream. Doctors divide CKD into stages that indicate how much kidney function you have. Stage 1 and 2 indicate some degree of kidney damage. By the time you reach stage 3, you’ve lost about half your kidney function. Stage 4 indicates severe kidney damage and stage 5 is complete kidney failure.

Primary Causes of Renal Failure

Diabetes is far and away the most common cause of renal failure in the US. Chronic high blood sugar damages all of the cells in the body. Proper treatment, however, can prevent much of this damage. High blood pressure (hypertension) is another common cause of CKD and kidney failure. Low blood pressure can also cause problems, as the kidneys need a certain level of blood flow to filter waste from the blood. Low blood pressure is more likely to be a factor in acute kidney failure. Although less common, toxins, autoimmune diseases and conditions such as a heart attack can also result in kidney failure.

Renal Failure and Longevity

There is no question that kidney disease can affect the lifespan. Putting a time frame on an individual case is much more complex. In acute failure, death may occur within a few days to a week without treatment. If the progress of CKD is rapid and the patient opts not to have treatment, life expectancy may be a few years at most. However, even people who have complete renal failure may live for years with proper care and regular dialysis treatments. A kidney transplant may also result in a longer survival period.

Treating Kidney Failure

In the initial stages of CKD, the emphasis is on medical management – such as dietary changes, fluid restriction, and medications. It is also important to treat contributing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Once the kidneys fail completely, dialysis or a kidney transplant is the only treatment options. With proper treatment, people with renal failure often live for decades after diagnosis. Many continue to work, raise families and enjoy their lives to the fullest.

A diagnosis of renal failure certainly isn’t good news, but there is always hope. You can continue to enjoy your life with proper treatment and medical management. If you have questions or concerns about CKD and kidney disease, please contact our office. We serve the Taunton and Brockton areas of Massachusetts.

How Bad is Renal Failure?

October 22, 2018

How Bad is Renal Failure?

Renal failure is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening.

Your kidneys are essential for life. Kidneys perform the important task of balancing fluids and removing toxins from your blood. Together, your kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood each day and produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine, according to the National Institutes of Health. Without kidneys, these toxins and fluids would build up, which would prevent other organs from functioning properly.

Most people are born with two kidneys. These fist-sized, bean-shaped organs are located on each side of the spine, just below your ribcage. Blood flows into each kidney through a renal artery, which branches into smaller and smaller blood vessels until it reaches the minuscule blood vessels that filter out toxins and fluid. Filtered blood then flows out of the kidney and back into your body via the renal vein.

Kidney disease can cause kidneys to function poorly, which means they do not do a good job of filtering toxins and getting rid of excess fluids from the blood. Kidney disease can continue for a long time to become chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease is common, affecting about 10 percent of the world’s population, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

About Chronic Kidney Disease and Renal Failure

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and low blood pressure, can cause chronic kidney disease and renal failure.

Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition, which means it gets worse over time. In other words, the kidneys become increasingly unable to filter toxins and fluids from the bloodstream. Renal failure is the final stage of chronic kidney disease, so doctors refer to renal failure as end-stage renal disease.

Renal failure is a serious condition where your kidneys stop working well enough to sustain life. There is no cure for renal failure. The only treatments for renal failure are kidney transplant and dialysis. It can take months or even years for a donor’s kidney to become available, so most people with renal failure go on dialysis.

Dialysis is a procedure in which a machine filters the patient’s blood and removes excess fluids. Most people have to go on dialysis when their kidney function drops down to 10 or 15 percent of its original function. The procedure does all of the important jobs normally performed by your kidneys. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis requires trips to the dialysis center about three times a week to receive treatments that typically last for about 4 hours. Peritoneal dialysis can be done at home 4 to 7 times each week, but each treatment is shorter.

A kidney transplant is the superior treatment, as patients no longer need dialysis. The average waiting time for an available kidney is 3 to 5 years.

Renal failure is serious because, without treatment, toxins and fluids build up in the body to cause major problems with your organs and tissues. Renal failure is also challenging because treatment can take valuable time each week.

For more information on the seriousness of renal failure, talk with your doctor or renal specialist.

Can You Go on Dialysis Temporarily?

October 10, 2018

Can You Go on Dialysis Temporarily?

When your kidneys are not working properly, your doctor may recommend you start dialysis treatment. Learn more about why this treatment is needed and whether it is something that is temporary or something you will need for the rest of your life.

What Does Dialysis Do?

Kidneys are responsible for helping the body naturally remove excess water, toxins, and wastes from the blood. If excessive water, toxins, and wastes are not removed from your blood, it causes them to build up and eventually cause life-threatening problems ranging from organ failure, coma, or even death.

Healthy kidneys are able to eliminate all these excessive toxins and wastes from the blood naturally. However, if damage occurs to the kidneys, either from an illness or injury, the body is unable to filter these toxins out. That is why dialysis is needed. This type of treatment will remove the toxins and wastes from the blood when the kidneys can no longer naturally do it.

There are three different dialysis treatment options available to patients. Those options include:

  • Intermittent hemodialysis
  • Continuous renal replacement therapies
  • Peritoneal dialysis

The type of treatment that is used will depend upon why it is needed, the patient’s comfort levels, personal situation, and current health, and cost.

How Long Do You Need to Undergo Dialysis?

How long you will need to undergo treatment will depend upon why it is needed. In some situations where the kidneys are only temporarily damaged, dialysis may not be needed long-term and you will only need to undergo this type of treatment for a limited time. However, in situations where the kidneys are permanently damaged, treatment will be needed on a more long-term basis.

Temporary dialysis may be recommended in the following situations:

  • Development of an acute kidney condition that causes the kidneys to stop working properly
  • Consuming toxic substances
  • Overdosing on drugs
  • Experiencing a traumatic kidney injury
  • Complications from chronic heart disease have developed and need to be relieved

Treatment is often only needed it until the kidneys improve in health. The length of time this type of treatment is needed will vary and can range from several weeks to several months.

When is Dialysis Needed Long Term?

Dialysis is needed long-term when it is being used for chronic kidney failure. This type of treatment allows a person with chronic kidney failure to continue to enjoy life without developing life-threatening problems.

If a person with chronic kidney failure undergoes an organ transplant, he or she may not need this type of treatment anymore. However, that depends upon the success of the transplant procedure.

Have questions about dialysis? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Lauer at Associates in Nephrology. Dr. Lauer specializes in the treatment of kidney disease and administering dialysis. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

How Long can You Live on Kidney Dialysis?

September 17, 2018

How Long Can You Live on Kidney Dialysis?

Once a patient has developed end-stage kidney failure there is only one treatment option available –dialysis. This treatment option isn’t a cure but it does extend the life expectancy of any patient diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Patient on Dialysis?

It is difficult to determine the how long a person can live once they start treatment for end-stage kidney failure because so many different factors influence life expectancy. Everything from the severity of the kidney disease and other health problems to how well a patient follows a treatment plan determines the life expectancy of an individual undergoing this type of treatment.

Even with all the varying factors, on average a person can live 5 to 10 years when seeking treatment for end-stage kidney failure. There are some patients who have lived longer on dialysis. These patients have had their life expectancy extended 20 or even 30 years by undergoing regular treatment for end-stage kidney failure.

Do Patients have an Option to Undergo Dialysis?

Yes, all patients with end-stage kidney failure have a say in their treatment. However, end-stage kidney failure is only diagnosed when the kidneys have lost 85% or more of their function. When the kidneys lose so much of their function, dialysis treatment is the only option available that will help a patient stay alive.

Failing to undergo this type of end-stage kidney failure treatment can be fatal. Without treatment patients often only live several weeks once end-stage kidney failure is diagnosed.

What is the Purpose of Dialysis and Does it Cure Kidney Disease?

The entire purpose of kidney dialysis is to take care of essential bodily functions that are unable to be performed because the kidneys no longer properly function. This treatment option does everything that healthy kidneys do including removing extra water, salt and waste from the body, maintaining safe levels of important chemicals – like potassium and bicarbonate – in the body, and controlling blood pressure.

Some people may have heard of people who underwent kidney dialysis and then no longer needed it. This makes people believe that this treatment is a cure for end-stage kidney failure, but it isn’t a cure.

When dialysis is used to treat acute kidney failure that may be caused by a sudden illness or accident, it may only be temporary. It is temporary because the kidneys have not been permanently damaged and only need this specific treatment to help them heal. However, if it is being used to treat or manage chronic or end-stage kidney failure, it is permanent and patients will need to undergo this treatment for the rest of their life.

If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, especially end-stage kidney failure, call Associates in Nephrology to schedule an appointment to learn about your treatment options. Our doctor, Dr. Lauer, can help you explore treatment options that will help you manage and control your kidney disease.

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