Myths and Facts About Dialysis

Top-level vascular surgeon Dr. Farouk Marzouk of Frontier Medical Care offers outstanding vascular care to communities in and around the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn, New York.

One of the many crucial services our talented expert provides is dialysis access and ongoing dialysis site management to patients who are preparing for or undergoing hemodialysis.

Dr. Marzouk is happy to separate fact from fiction as he tackles the top-three myths surrounding this life-sustaining therapy. 

Myth 1: Dialysis is very inconvenient and will control every aspect of my life

Your kidneys normally act as filters that remove excess minerals and other potentially harmful substances from your blood. Kidney failure occurs when these small, bean-shaped organs can no longer accomplish their task.

During hemodialysis, the most common of the three types of dialysis, a dialysis machine and special filter do the work for your kidneys. Dialysis is time-consuming, typically requiring three four-hour sessions each week, and you must maintain a consistent dialysis schedule to reap the health benefits it offers.

However, depending on which location is most convenient for your schedule, hemodialysis can be performed at a hospital or in a dialysis unit. Because the treatment is standardized, you can undergo dialysis even during a business trip or vacation at any of the many centers scattered throughout the United States and across the globe.

Additionally, thanks to advances in medical technology, provided your kidney care team agrees and you have adequate training, you can also learn to perform hemodialysis at home.

Once they’ve adjusted to the routine of dialysis, most people find they can return to work or school or otherwise resume a fairly normal schedule.

Myth 2: Dialysis shortens your lifespan 

It’s true that only those with advanced kidney failure undergo dialysis. In some cases of acute (sudden) kidney failure, you may only require dialysis for a short time, until your kidney function recovers.

Dialysis does not, however, cure chronic (long-term) kidney disease, which is the most common cause of kidney failure. In that case, you must remain on dialysis throughout the rest of your life or until you are able to undergo a kidney transplant.

However, rather than shortening your lifespan, dialysis offers you the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life. Depending on your overall health at the time you began dialysis and how well you follow your treatment plan, the National Kidney Foundation reports that many patients live well on dialysis for 20-30 years.

Myth 3: Dialysis is painful and has many adverse side effects

You may note mild discomfort, much like you would feel when receiving an injection, at the start of treatment when the dialysis technician accesses your fistula or graft.

Very rarely, you may also develop a headache or feel dizzy during dialysis. This is normally due to issues such as blood pressure drops during dialysis which are easily managed by your dialysis care team. Be sure to notify your team of the symptoms you’re experiencing.

You can also help prevent side effects in response to dialysis by carefully following the dietary and fluid restrictions your doctor recommends as part of your overall treatment strategy.

The dialysis treatment itself, however, is painless. Many individuals use the time to read, catch up on their favorite videos, focus on work projects, or simply relax as they listen to music.

Dialysis brings significant relief from the overwhelming fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling, muscle cramps, and other symptoms associated with irreversible late-stage kidney disease. 

For most, the benefits of dialysis far outweigh the perceived inconveniences of dialysis.

To learn more about any of the outstanding vein and vascular services we offer, including dialysis site access and management, schedule an evaluation with us at Frontier Medical Care today.

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