Kidney disease and hemodialysis: what you need to know.


A young woman with a hemodialysis

Understanding about kidney diseases and their therapeutic methods such as hemodialysis is largely associated with their recurrence today.


Many people affected by kidney disease ignore the warning signs and choose not to get treated, much less prevented in time.


That said, knowing what our kidneys do for us, the causes of the pathologies and how to control them will be mentioned below.

The function of the kidneys

The kidneys are among the most essential organs throughout life because of the great work they do in filtering compounds.

They are known for filtering the blood, eliminating wastes, maintaining the balance of electrolytes and fluids in the body, as well as eliminating toxins during urination (peeing).

Each kidney contains approximately one million nephrons with glomeruli and tubules inside to filter blood and water; over time they decrease in number.

They are also the main producers of hormones, such as the active form of vitamin D for absorption of calcium from food.

They also produce erythropoietin, which regulates blood function and stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

In addition, they produce prostaglandins, stimulate renin and respond to various hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol, parathyroid hormone and calcitonin.

Kidney diseases, as common as dangerous

When blood does not flow properly through the kidneys, it impairs the total functioning of the organs, reflected in renal failure.

In these situations, wastes can accumulate and then cause kidney disease of various magnitudes.

The so-called nephropathies occur mainly in subjects with family history, obesity, diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

Dialysis (hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis) is used for kidney disease as the method of choice in most cases.

But before talking about this treatment, let us define the different pathologies that involve kidney damage and are controlled with dialysis.

Acute kidney disease

It is usually of sudden origin due to scarce blood flow and damage to the kidneys. Some of the risk factors are:

  • Enlarged prostate.
  • Excessive bleeding, septic shock and dehydration.
  • Medications that impair renal function (NSAIDs, antibiotics).
  • Complications during pregnancy and autoimmune diseases.

Chronic kidney disease

The definition of chronic is established when the disease was not treated during its acute stage (approximately 3 months).


The main triggering factor is high blood pressure, capable of altering the filtration of the glomeruli, damaging the blood vessels.


With the passage of time, kidney function is lost and hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis is performed.

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

Diseases of bacterial origin that affect most of the structures of the urinary tract, if not treated in time, can spread to the kidneys.

Depending on the area where the infection occurs, it is known as cystitis (bladder), urethritis (urethra) or pyelonephritis (kidneys), the latter causing kidney damage.

Kidney stones

Nephrolithiasis or kidney stone production is similar to gallstones, whether they are stones in the bile ducts or gallbladder.

The difference is that kidney stones are formed by crystals capable of blocking the flow of urine.


It results from inflammation of the glomeruli as a consequence of infection, medication or congenital abnormalities.


If not treated in time, it can irreversibly damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure.

Polycystic kidney disease

A disorder of genetic origin in which cysts are produced within the kidney capable of spreading to other organs such as the liver.


Renal cysts grow at different rates, sizes and numbers; they are asymptomatic for years, although they are associated with renal failure, hypertension, UTI and kidney stones.

Kidney cancer

The most predominant variant is renal cell carcinoma. It is usually found in early stages when it has not yet spread.


Associated with heredity, advanced age, smoking, hypertension and obesity; it can be prevented most of the time.


Symptoms are similar to any other renal pathology, therefore it is advisable to visit the doctor.

How to identify a possible case of kidney disease

Striking symptoms

The urinary system is very intuitive in compensating for its own failures, so identifying any symptoms is unusual in the early stages.


As kidney damage progresses, signs and symptoms will become more noticeable, leading to further deterioration of health.


The presence of the following symptoms should be considered:


  • Hypertension.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Fatigue, weakness and difficulty concentrating.
  • Muscle contractions.
  • Swelling of lower extremities.
  • Chest pain and difficulty breathing.
  • Recurrent urination that increases at night.
  • Hyperkalemia (increased potassium in the body).

Diagnostic methods

The clinical history and physical examination focused on the genitourinary system are essential for the finding of a disease of renal origin.


Other complementary studies are blood and urinalysis; renal ultrasound to verify size and shape of both organs; kidney biopsy to observe histological changes.


The glomerular filtration rate checks the state and function of the kidneys, so it helps to determine the degree of renal damage.


Finally, the blood creatinine test. This is a waste from the muscles released normally into the circulation, if it is increased it translates as kidney failure.

Kidney cancer, a reality in the population

Dialysis: Hemodialysis support in renal diseases

For the most part, early stage kidney diseases are treatable, basically slowing the progression and damage to the kidneys is paramount during therapy.


Medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers are useful in acute stages.


Antibiotics and culture studies are used for possible UTIs; other treatments such as lithotripsy, nephrectomy or nephrostomy are more specific.


Although the goal is to correct renal function, chronic cases do not allow such restoration, forcing the medical service to indicate dialysis.

Who requires it?

Dialysis was designed to treat the problems caused by renal insufficiencies, replacing the filtration process of the kidneys when they no longer work.


In this case, we will talk about hemodialysis and all that can be achieved from its implementation in patients with kidney disease.


Its functions contribute to the elimination of wastes agglomerated in the kidneys, as well as filtering water and blood so that they flow properly.


Other compounds such as vitamins and electrolytes are regulated to maintain a balance.


When suffering from chronic kidney disease, hemodialysis is the treatment of choice and is started after assessing the declining function of the kidneys.

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