Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kidney Dialysis and How To Prevent It

About 23 million people in the U.S. have physiological evidence of chronic kidney disease, according to statistics from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. By 2007 over 500,000 U.S. residents were under kidney dialysis treatment.

Kidney dialysis is a medical procedure used to artificially remove waste substances and excess fluid from the blood, when the kidneys fail.

Healthy kidneys remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood as it flows through the body. By this process, they regulate normal levels of sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, sulfate, phosphate and hydrogen to maintain homeostasis and tranquility in the physical body.

1500 liters of blood enters the kidneys everyday through the renal arteries, of which 180 liters are filtered. The blood is filtered by glomeruli inside the kidneys where wastes and excess fluid are removed from the blood, as it passes through the kidneys.

The cleansed blood returns to the heart to be circulated through the body, while the waste substances and excess fluid leave the kidneys as urine. By removing excess fluid from the body, healthy kidneys maintain the body's fluid balance, which in women is 55% of body weight, and in men 60% of body weight.

Healthy kidneys regulate blood pressure. They make two important hormones called renin and angiotensin. These are like gatekeepers; they regulate the amount of sodium or salt and fluid the body holds, and the expansion and narrowing of blood vessels. Failing kidneys retain to much fluid in the body, and make too much renin, both of which increase blood pressure.

Healthy kidneys make another hormone called erythropoeitin (EPO). The blood carry EPO to the bone marrow where it stimulates the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Deficiency in red blood cells leads to animia, resulting in weakness, cold, and shortness of breath.

Another hormone made by healthy kidneys is calcitriol. It maintains the right balance of calcium and phosphate in the blood and bones to keep bones healthy. Failing kidneys may not make enough calcitriol resulting in an imbalance of calcium, phosphate, vitamin D, and the end effect of renal bone disease.

The major causes of kidney failure are: diabetes, hypertension, glomerulonephritis, cystic kidney, urologic disease and few others. Kidney failure tends to happen slowly and the symptoms are unnoticed for a long time. The symptoms may include:

Fatigue and frequent urination, especially at night; erectile dysfunction, itchy skin, nausea and shortness of breath, swollen feet, hands and ankles, blood in urine and protein in urine.

When the kidneys stop performing their lifesaving functions, as a result of damage or disease, one of two types of kidney dialysis is used to remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood: hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

In a hemodialysis, a catheter is inserted into the vein to remove blood that goes through a machine with special filters that filter out waste substances from the blood. The filtered blood is returned to the patient's body through another catheter. The process of removing and filtering the patient's blood takes about 3-4 hours each week.

In a peritoneal dialysis, a catheter is used to fill the abdominal cavity with a dialysis solution containing a sugar called dextrose which pulls wastes and excess fluid from the blood through the peritoneum into the abdominal cavity. The wastes and excess fluid leave the body when the dialysis solution is drained through the catheter. A typical peritoneal dialysis schedule requires four filling and draining a day, each lasting 4-6 hours.

Obviously, when we talk about our health, what we are really talking about is the health of our internal organs. As this knowledge become prevalent, we will trend toward selecting the specific nutrients from what we eat and drink, and oxygen from the air we breath that our cells need to maintain the good health of our internal organs, and consequently help us prevent a medical procedure like kidney dialysis.

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