For most people with mild CKD (stages 1-3) treatment will consist of adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking some medications to control their blood pressure and prevent their kidneys from getting worse.
If your CKD progresses to stage 4-5 you will need to start thinking about the treatment options available for kidney failure.
Read our guide to living with early stage chronic kidney disease (PDF 4Mb)
Choosing the treatment option that's right for you
Blood is pumped through the dialyser and returned to your body.
In haemodialysis your blood flows out of your body, round a dialysis machine and through a dialyser. The dialyser cleans your blood of waste products and then it is returned to your body. The haemodialysis process replaces the cleaning function normally carried out by healthy kidneys. It usually has to be done three times a week on alternate days.
Is any surgery involved?
You will need a small operation to create a fistula or to insert a dialysis line. A fistula is where an artery is joined to a vein so that the vein enlarges. This enables needles to be inserted into your bloodstream for haemodialysis.
If you need dialysis before your fistula is ready, you will need a dialysis line. This is a small plastic tube put into a large vein in your neck.
How does haemodialysis work?
The tubes on the dialysis machine will be attached to your fistula or dialysis line. The tubes will be used to take blood from your body. Your blood is circulated around the dialysis machine via the pump. It then goes through the dialyser where it is cleaned. The tubes then carry the cleaned blood back into your body. Only a small amount of your blood is out of your body at any one time.
How long does it take?
It takes about 30 minutes to connect you to the dialysis machine and about 30 minutes to disconnect you at the end. You will usually dialyse for about four hours, three times a week on alternate days. Dialysis will be prescribed by your doctor according to your needs.
What can I eat and drink if I choose haemodialysis?
There is some dietary and fluid advice to follow to stop too many toxins and excess fluid from building up in your blood. The staff will advise you when you start treatment.
Where can I have my haemodialysis treatment?
There are three main choices:
- In your own home.
- In a ´satellite´ haemodialysis centre near your home. This may or may not be on a hospital site. It will usually be staffed by expert nurses.
- In a dialysis unit in a main hospital. This option is usually for patients that have complex healthcare needs.
Can I stop dialysis?
There might come a time when you feel you want to stop dialysis. You might feel that it is no longer maintaining or improving your quality of life. You should talk about this with your doctor, other members of your healthcare team, and your loved ones before making a final decision.
If you stop dialysis you can live for one to two weeks, depending on your overall medical condition. If you feel any discomfort, you might be given medication.
Your healthcare team can advise you about the type of care you might need, and help to arrange it, as well as provide emotional support to you and your loved ones.