What are the 3 types of hemodialysis?

Kidney is a vital organ in humans. Function of the kidney includes removing waste products from the body through urine, balancing body fluids, regulating blood pressure and production of red blood cells. Impairment or damage to the kidney can lead to many health issues. One of the common diseases involving kidney is chronic kidney disease that accounts for more than 800 million people all around the globe. This translates to 10% of the population worldwide is affected by kidney disease. Since there is no sign that this number will decline in the near future, treatment such as haemodialysis is common to treat the vast number of people with kidney issues.

            Dialysis is a form of renal replacement therapy. Dialysis can be considered as artificial equipment that removes excess water, solutes and toxins. In other words, dialysis takes the role of what the kidney does since the kidney is unable to perform its function well. Haemodialysis works by filtering waste and water from the blood that is typically performed by a healthy kidney. Haemodialysis works by filtering the blood through a filter called dialyzer outside the body.

            Initially, needles will be placed into the arm (could also be leg or neck area depending on patients). Numbing cream or anaesthesia spray may be used on the area that needles would be inserted. Then, the needle is attached to a soft tube connected to the dialysis machine. The dialysis machine pumps the blood through the dialyzer and returns the filtered blood to the body. Although haemodialysis is considered as renal placement therapy, it could not do 100% of what a healthy kidney can do. This is why people undergoing haemodialysis need to be cautious of water intake and other liquid from food to avoid build-up fluid in the body.

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There are 3 types of dialysis:

1) In-centre haemodialysis- Trained staff are available to perform the procedure. Since it is a centre, patients might be able to socialise with other people and form relationships. The downside is treatments are scheduled by the centre and there is the need to travel to the centre. People that appreciate privacy may find in-centre haemodialysis not suitable for them. There are also stricter rules while treated here.

2) Home haemodialysis- Home haemodialysis allows a person to have longer and frequent dialysis without the need to travel to a dialysis centre. This is because the machine used is small and provides flexibility for the person to choose a convenient time of day to perform dialysis. Apart from such advantages, home haemodialysis lowers the chances of problems common in standard haemodialysis schedules such as muscle cramps and blood pressure issues. Although, home haemodialysis may not seem easy as it seems as a dialysis centre will require a partner from their household to go through training with patients on how to perform the treatment and safety skills to have. Training may take hours a day on every weekday and can be from 3 to 8 weeks.

3) Peritoneal dialysis- A treatment used the lining (peritoneum) of the abdomen to filter blood inside the body. Surgeons will catheter  inside the abdomen weeks before peritoneal dialysis. Treatment starts with the flow of dialysis solution through the catheter. After emptying the bag of the dialysis solution, the catheter is then capped and the person can do their daily activities as usual. After a few hours, the solution and wastes are drained out of the abdomen and into the empty bag. This is done everyday.

            Types of dialysis are something to be discussed with a healthcare provider when there is a need for renal replacement therapy. If there is concern regarding therapy, it should be immediately addressed to the healthcare provider.

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