About 37 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), a persistent medical condition that affects the way the kidneys work. Kidney disease requires ongoing medical care to support your kidneys and help you stay healthy. For some people, that ongoing care includes kidney dialysis.
As leading nephrologists in Houston and Cypress, Texas, the team at Houston Kidney Specialists Center provides a complete spectrum of care for patients with kidney disease, including both at-home dialysis and on-site dialysis at our state-of-the-art treatment center. Here’s when our doctors might recommend dialysis as part of your treatment plan.
The basics of kidney disease
Most of us know our kidneys produce urine. However, your kidneys do a lot more than that.
Their main function is to act as filters, removing wastes, acids, and excess fluid from your blood and excreting those substances through urination. They also help your tissues maintain an optimal balance of minerals, salts, and water. Healthy kidneys filter roughly a half cup of blood every minute.
When your kidneys don’t work the way they’re supposed to, these wastes, excess minerals, and fluids build up in your tissues, interfering with the way the rest of your organs function. For people with chronic kidney disease, compromises in kidney function can become life-threatening.
Kidney disease most commonly happens when the kidneys are damaged by an underlying disease or medical problem. In fact, the National Kidney Association says about two-thirds of all CKD cases are due to diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension).
Kidney disease, inflammation of the kidneys, and recurrent kidney infections can also lead to CKD. Acute kidney injury (AKI), which can follow a serious medical event, such as a heart attack, severe burns, or allergic reaction, can also cause CKD. Kidney disease can also develop due to some types of medications.
The basics of dialysis
Dialysis (or hemodialysis) uses special solutions and technology to perform the filtering actions of your kidneys, removing wastes and purifying your blood. Our team offers “traditional” hemodialysis as well as peritoneal dialysis.
Hemodialysis uses a machine to filter your blood. During a dialysis session, your blood passes through the machine’s filter (called a dialyzer), then the filtered blood is returned to your blood vessels.
The process typically takes 3-5 hours, and it’s performed several times a week. The number of sessions you need will depend on the severity of your CKD. Hemodialysis can be performed on-site or in your home.
Peritoneal dialysis uses your abdominal lining (peritoneum) to filter your blood. While this treatment is performed at home, first your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into your belly.
During treatment, you use the catheter to fill the peritoneum with a special solution. This solution filters wastes and toxins from your blood. The solution stays in place for a prescribed period of time — typically less than an hour — before it’s drained through the catheter.
We also offer automated peritoneal dialysis (APD), in which a machine delivers the fluid and drains it for you while you sleep. In APD, you remain connected to the machine for 10-12 hours each day, and the solution stays in place for a longer period of time.
How to tell when it’s time for dialysis
Chronic kidney disease is categorized in five stages, and these stages are based on how well your kidneys filter your blood. To determine your filtration rate, your doctor uses both urine tests and blood tests. Based on those results, your doctor can tell what stage you’re in and what type of treatment you need (including whether or not you need dialysis).
Typically, most patients begin dialysis in Stage 5 kidney disease, which is the most serious stage. In Stage 5, your kidneys are so severely damaged, they’re barely filtering blood (or not filtering blood at all). This stage is also called kidney failure, and it’s also the stage when a kidney transplant may be considered.
Patient-centered kidney treatment
Kidney disease is a serious medical problem that requires ongoing medical care by kidney experts. Our team works closely with every patient to develop a treatment plan aimed at supporting their kidney health, overall health, and well-being.
To learn more about kidney disease treatment, call 281-429-8780 or book an appointment online with Houston Kidney Specialists Center today.