Dialysis is the treatment given to those with stage 5 Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD); after the kidney has entered end stage kidney failure. It is generally administered after 85-90 percent of kidney function has been lost, disabling the kidneys from performing their usual functions. When end stage kidney failure sets in, dialysis is necessary for performing the roles normally held by the kidney: filtering blood throughout the kidneys, removing waste, regulating the levels of vital chemicals in the body, and controlling blood pressure.
Though treatments vary by patient, they are generally considered to be painless procedures. Some discomfort is normal during the initial treatments, as blood pressure can drop, causing nausea, headaches, and cramping. With more frequent treatments, though, these problems tend to cease for most patients.
While dialysis treatments have obvious benefits, such as prolonging life for those with CKD, it is not a cure. It does not improve the health of the kidneys, but rather it is a lifelong procedure that replaces the work of the kidneys. However, in some patients, life is prolonged to equal that of a person living without kidney failure.
Dialysis treatments vary from patient to patient, because there are different types of dialysis that are more appropriate for certain patients, based on needs, and severity of CKD. To learn more about these options, it is best to consult with a physician.