By: Dr. Elena Ushakova (Dr. Елена Ушакова)
What is hemodialysis? What is the “artificial kidney” device? A similar question arises for people who are experiencing kidney problems. In recent years, doctors around the world have managed to cope with the most severe kidney diseases, but sometimes it is difficult or impossible to overcome kidney failure, which is when “artificial kidneys”come to the rescue.
Thanks to technological progress and the fact that medical science does not stand still, but continues to move forward at a rapid pace in its development, millions of people on the planet have received a second chance and the opportunity to extend their lives thanks to doctors and equipment for extrarenal blood purification in acute and chronic kidney failure.
The kidneys take part in the release of the human body from all accumulated toxins and harmful substances. In addition to these functions, the kidneys are involved in the normalization of blood pressure. If there is a violation of the normal functioning of the kidneys, then the entire body is poisoned by metabolic products. This condition is very dangerous for human health, up to a threat to life. When the kidneys no longer cope with their main function, namely, with the removal of toxins from the human body and the purification of blood from harmful metabolic products, doctors resort to the help of such a modern medical device as an “artificial kidney” (a hemodialysis machine). Hemodialysis in medicine is the purification of a patient’s blood using equipment that can prolong a person’s life by performing the work of the kidneys outside the human body.
Kidney failure can be acute or chronic. Acute renal failure develops suddenly, as a consequence of acute (but most often reversible) kidney damage, and is characterized by a sharp drop in the amount of urine released, until it is completely absent. Acute kidney damage occurs for various reasons-not infrequently as a result of poisoning, for example, alcohol or a dose of a drug that is toxic to the kidneys. Develops with severe kidney injury. As a consequence of acute inflammatory diseases of the kidneys – pyelonephritis, or glomerulonephritis. It can be a manifestation of acute infections, such as hemorrhagic or so-called “mouse” fever.
Chronic kidney failure is a gradual decrease in the performance of the kidneys to its complete disappearance, caused by the gradual death of kidney tissue as a result of chronic kidney disease, gradual shrinking of the kidney. The most common causes of chronic kidney failure are diabetes mellitus, chronic glomerulonephritis, chronic pyelonephritis, congenital abnormalities of kidney development – polycystic kidney disease, diseases that lead to impaired renal blood flow – vascular atherosclerosis, hypertension. Currently, the number of patients with chronic renal failure increases by 10-12% annually. Hemodialysis, if there is a chronic form of kidney failure, begins only when the usual treatment does not give positive results. That is, in the terminal, most recent stage of chronic kidney failure, when the kidneys have almost completely lost their functionality. In terms of time, the procedure of artificial blood purification lasts on average 4 hours, and it must be repeated 3 times a week. The cost of such a complex procedure is quite high. High prices are associated with the cost of equipment and supplies, and handling such a device requires knowledge and experience from a doctor.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for patients to see a nephrologist-a doctor who treats kidney diseases in the last stage of kidney failure. Or only in intensive care will learn about the existing kidney disease!
But with a chronic disease, the decline in kidney function occurs gradually and it is possible to significantly slow down and even prevent the complete loss of kidney function. To do this, it is necessary to detect and treat the underlying kidney disease in a timely manner. It is especially important to regularly check the condition of the kidneys if there are diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Carefully follow all the doctor’s recommendations on diet and treatment. It should be noted that even in healthy people, without hypertension and diabetes, the number of functional nephrons gradually decreases with age by 1% per year after 40 years. The nephron is a small structural and functional unit of the kidney, in which unnecessary products are removed and necessary substances are re-entered into the bloodstream. So working nephrons in a person in 80 years is 40% less than in a person in 40 years. Accelerate the natural decline of nephrons with age, taking certain medications. Even over-the-counter medications like aspirin and paracetamol are toxic to the kidneys. You need to remember this and do not accept them without a convincing reason and in large quantities. The problem of late diagnosis of kidney diseases is due to the fact that the kidneys have a very large reserve. When some nephrons are lost, other nephrons take the load on themselves and work at the limit of their capabilities.
In the initial stages of kidney failure, nothing can bother you, or sometimes there is fatigue with physical exertion, weakness that appears in the evening, dry mouth. Symptoms may appear only when only 30% of the working nephrons remain. Therefore, the first signs of kidney failure can only be detected during examination. Therefore, it is very important to undergo regular medical examinations.
Elena Ushakova, has been working as a doctor for more than 15 years. She says “I always wanted to be a doctor. For the past two years, I have been managing a hemodialysis center in the Eastern district of Moscow.”
Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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