More and more kidney disease patients are seeking the option of home hemodialysis due to its sheer convenience. Read on to find out useful information about this treatment option.
Hemodialysis is a treatment option often used in end stage kidney disease. It involves removing toxins and waste materials from the bloodstream using a dialysis machine. This treatment is provided at kidney centers that are especially set up for dialysis patients. However, getting hemodialysis done at these centers is extremely time-consuming and inconvenient. Home hemodialysis has emerged as a very convenient option for patients who do not wish to go for in-center hemodialysis. Let us know more on this very useful technique of controlling kidney disease.
Why to Go for Home Hemodialysis?
A whopping 90% patients with end stage kidney disease opt for dialysis. Due to such large number of patients, the dialysis centers are often busy. They have various shifts of dialysis patients running throughout the day. This means, you have to be on time for your scheduled appointment, no matter what. In case you are late, you cannot be allotted extra time, because they have another patient lined up for dialysis in the next slot. Apart from the time constraints, the whole activity can be physically draining for the patient. He has to visit the center at least three times a week and spend about 4 hours sitting in a chair, during each session. After the dialysis procedure, it may take several hours for the patient’s blood pressure to return to normal. During this period, he may experience rise and fall in his energy levels.
However, if you opt for a home hemodialysis, you can get dialysis done at your convenience. You can have short daily sessions of about two hours or traditional sessions of four hours, thrice a week. Frequent dialysis may help to improve your overall health as wastes and toxins are removed from your body on a regular basis. Besides, you can choose to perform dialysis at night (also called nocturnal dialysis), so that you need not have to engage yourself during daytime. In short, home hemodialysis offers you unlimited flexibility in terms of timing and frequency. The biggest advantage is that, as this procedure is done in the comfort of your own home, you feel relaxed and less stressed out, which can boost your heart function.
How do Home Dialysis Machines Work?
Home hemodialysis machines are small and compact versions of in-center dialysis machines. The machine comes with a blood pump, two plastic tubes, dialyzer, display, etc. The patient inserts a needle in a vascular access to carry the dirty blood to the blood pump. It is then sent to the dialyzer or filter, which removes the toxins and wastes from the blood. The clean, filtered blood returns to the body through another plastic tube. The monitor displays vital information about the patient such as blood pressure, pulse rate, etc. A patient is expected to visit the center at least once a month to keep a track of his kidney function. Levels of phosphorous are checked in the blood to see if the home dialysis is yielding expected results or not.
Hemodialysis is a complicated procedure. The dialysis machine is also difficult to operate. If you choose to go this way, it is a must that you have a caregiver who can help you with dialysis. A friend, family member, professional caregiver, etc., can help you with this process. When you go for an in-center dialysis, you are under the care of experienced nurse and technical staff. The same level of skill and expertise is expected from your caregiver. For this, a patient and his caregiver are imparted special training that involves handling of equipment, monitoring results, injecting needles, etc. The duration of this training may be anywhere between 3 to 12 weeks depending upon a person’s individual condition. The patient is allowed to go for home dialysis only when he and his caregiver are confident about doing the dialysis process on their own. In case of any problem, the center provides a 24 hour helpline.
Kidney dialysis process is an expensive treatment. However, the high cost is compensated with improved health. While the patients are not required to buy dialysis machines from the center, they have to pay about $1000 as a stipend for the use of the machine. Besides, they have to bear the cost of dialysis solution, other equipment and laboratory solutions that are shipped to their homes, once or twice a month. Installing a dialysis machine at home demands some changes in your existing plumbing and electricity lines. This cost may run anywhere between $750 – $3000. You will also need to buy a water purification unit and other equipment for disposal of waste. Using a dialysis machine may add up to your utility bills. One must note that, Medicare does not cover the full cost of home hemodialysis. Hence, you must be prepared to spend a large chunk out of your pocket.
Home hemodialysis improves the life expectancy of a patient to a great extent. The results of this procedure are often comparable to that of kidney transplant procedure from a deceased donor. Thus, this can be a real lifesaving treatment for you or your loved one.