When Do I Need Dialysis? 

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Health Insurance Plans starting at Rs.15/day*

The leading causes of dialysis may vary following the person’s health condition. The reason for your dialysis arises from the inability of kidneys to function on their own; this deficiency is termed renal failure or kidney failure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes are the major causes of kidney failure.

What is Dialysis ?

Dialysis is the clinical purification process that extricates waste and excess fluid from the body. Thus, dialysis is a treatment that performs the partial function of your kidney.

Causes for Kidney Failure

Kidney failure is the reason behind dialysis treatment; the following are the causes for kidney failure

  • Diabetes (most common cause)
  • High Blood Pressure (2nd most common cause)
  • Heart attack
  • Urinary tract problems
  • Genetic diseases

When to Start Dialysis? 

There are different stages in kidney failure; dialysis in the early stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is not recommended. When your kidney fails to function, the creatinine level of blood in the body increases by dropping the GRF (glomerular filtration rate, a blood test to detect the function rate of the kidney) level. GRF test identifies kidney disease. The guidelines of the National Kidney Foundation, it is recommended you start dialysis when the function of the kidney drops to 15% or less. Dialysis is compulsory when 80 to 90% of the kidney stops functioning. The body shows various symptoms leading to kidney failure.

Followed below are the common symptoms of renal failure: weight loss, skin discolouration, chest pain, irregular pulse, nausea, fatigue and breathing trouble.

Types of Dialysis 

  • Hemodialysis
  • Peritoneal Dialysis


Hemodialysis is a treatment wherein blood purification is taken outside the body. The blood is purified through a filter called a dialyzer (artificial kidney) and returned during the process. Hemodialysis is a machine process; the dialyzer purifies and removes salt, waste and excess fluid in the blood. The process is either taken in a dialysis facility centre at hospitals or in-home with the help of technicians.

This process involves the insertion of two needles into your arms, one to remove the blood for dialysis and another to return the filtered blood to your body. In between is where the process of purification takes place. The removed blood is passed to a filter (dialyzer), purifying the blood.

Peritoneal Dialysis 

Peritoneal dialysis uses peritoneal, a thin tissue lining the wall of your abdomen. Here peritoneal performs the function of the kidney when acted along with the dialysate fluid. The Peritoneal membrane acts as a natural filter; this process takes place inside your body.

Before starting the process, it is necessary to undergo minor surgery to insert the catheter (soft plastic tissue) into your abdomen. The catheter acts as a medium to fill the abdominal cavity with a fluid (dialysis solution); this dialysate fluid mixes with the salt, waste and excess fluid, thus removing the waste from the blood. The process should be repeated four to six times a day. This process is called an exchange.

Depending on the size of your body and the amount of waste created, the time taken for peritoneal dialysis varies. The process takes two hours or more; this period is called the dwell time. After the dwell time, the cleansing fluid is extracted into an empty bag and discarded.

How long does dialysis take? 

Age, health condition and the waste amount produced by the body are factors that determine the time taken for dialysis.

Hemodialysis usually takes 4-5 hours and is scheduled three times per week.

Peritoneal Dialysis sessions can take overnight or several hours. In continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), the exchange process is done manually; the fluid takes 4-8 hours and takes four to five times a day, whereas automated peritoneal dialysis (APD) or continuous cycler-assisted peritoneal dialysis (CCPD) involves a machine for the exchange process. APD takes 9 hours and three to five times of exchange during the time of your sleep. You can start the day with a fresh dialysate solution in your belly throughout the day, and one exchange can be carried out without the help of a machine.

When is dialysis not recommended? 

  • Creatinine level is not the only deciding factor for the need for dialysis; if the creatinine level is high but has no symptoms, then dialysis is not recommended, but a doctor’s consultation is a must.
  • When creatinine level is not that high but prone to several complications and symptoms, it is recommended to start dialysis with the doctor’s consultation.
  • The recommendation to start dialysis once again varies in response to the person’s health, age, and kidney failure stage. Go as per the advice of the doctor.

Your dialysis treatment should take place with the recommendation of a doctor or medical consultant. Who monitors your health condition regularly to suggest the better treatment that suits you well. Please do not wait until symptoms lead your way to the doctor; it is advisable to have a medical check-up once in six months


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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