What is dialysis? It is an artificial process for patients of kidney failure, through which waste products – that under normal circumstances are removed by the kidneys – are removed using diffusion.
Haemodialysis is the most common type of dialysis. It involves diverting blood into an external machine, where it’s filtered before being returned to the body. Most people require dialysis three times a week, and one session takes around four hours. Two needles are inserted in a blood vessel in your arm.
The dialysis machine consists of series of membranes, which act as filters using a special liquid called dialysate. The dialysate enables diffusion in and out of the blood which helps the patient get rid of the waste products.
Before starting the procedure of haemodialysis, another procedure takes place which joins an artery and a vein in your arm, to make a single, thicker and stronger blood vessel, so that it can endure the pressure with which the blood returns from the machine into your body. This blood vessel is called the AV fistula. If your blood vessels are too thin to create an AV fistula, a synthetic (fake) tube is used instead. This blood vessel is called the AV graft. This makes it easier for the dialysis fluid to pass through and makes it less painful. However, some people still feel a lot of pain; this can be due to hypersensitivity or psychological factors.
There are still ways to make the procedure less painful.
USING TOPICAL ANESTHESIA
Topical anesthetics will numb the area where the needle is inserted and make the procedure less painful for the patient. EMLA cream (2.5% concentrated Lidocaine or Prilocaine) should be applied about 45-60 minutes before. This can be found at local drug stores.
USING PAIN EASE
Pain Ease is a spray that can be used on the site of insertion of needle. This solution almost ‘freezes’ the area and makes the area numb.
HAVE A LOVED ONE NEARBY
Often having a loved one nearby can be enough to get us through the biggest problems. Physical pain is no less, and hence your close family or friend being around would distract your mind and make the ordeal easier.
DISTRACT YOUR MIND
Distracting your mind by watching TV (if available) or a video on your phone can be a good way to stay in denial about the pain. You can also talk to the nurse, ask them about their day; surely they also need a channel to rant about the responsibilities!
WEAR GLOVES AND SOCKS
Dialysis rooms can become chilly and hence uncomfortable. Such situations make the human mind focus more on the negativities – in this case, pain. So in order to avoid thinking about pain, sit in a comfortable position and wear socks, gloves and a comfortable blanket.
Dialysis is a major treatment that needs to be catered to with care. We should try and focus on making the experience as painless as possible for the patient.