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What is Dialysis and How Does it Work?
Posted: Aug 26, 2022
What is Dialysis and How Does it Work? image

What does dialysis do?

  • It does the work of your kidneys.
  • Removes waste, salt, and extra water to prevent them from building up in the body.
  • Keeps a safe level of chemicals in your blood, such as potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate.
  • Helps to control blood pressure.

“Dialysis can be done in a hospital, in a dialysis unit that is not part of a hospital, or at home. You and your doctor will decide which place is best, based on your medical condition and your wishes.”

There are two types of dialysis: Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis


  • A machine removes blood from the body, filters it through a dialyzer (artificial kidney), and returns the clean blood to your body. 
  • This is a 3-5 hour process that can be done at a hospital or a dialysis center 3 times a week. 
  • You can also do Hemodialysis at home, but it is required 4-7 times a week for fewer hours.
  • You may experience side effects after dialysis completion: nausea, dizziness, faintness, chest pain, headache, and itchy skin.

Peritoneal Dialysis:

  • Tiny blood vessels inside the abdominal lining (peritoneum) filter blood through the aid of a dialysis solution (a type of cleansing liquid that contains salt, water and other additives). 
  • The dialysis solution absorbs waste and extra fluids in the body and rejects them into a catheter.
  • The process takes 60-90 minutes and must be done 4 times a day.
  • Takes place at home using a machine called a cycler.
  • You might feel uncomfortable or bloated, but the treatment is not painful.

“It’s possible to live 10 to 20 years on dialysis. The outlook varies depending on your age, overall health, the cause of kidney failure, and other factors. If you get a kidney transplant, you can stop dialysis when your new kidney starts working.”

The author Lisa Foster

about the author
Lisa Foster

Lisa Foster is a mom of 3 daughters, a puzzle lover, writer and HealthTree advocate. She believes in the mission of the foundation and the team that builds it forward. She calls Houston, Texas home.