What are the basic kidney functions?

  1. Purification or removal of substances that are useless for the body.

The kidneys are a powerful chemical plant. The human body absorbs nutrients from the intestines through the food it needs. Unnecessary substances that are not absorbed are either removed in the feces or returned to the body (through the blood) One of the main functions of the kidney is the constant filtration and purification (ie removal) of these unnecessary substances from the blood. If the kidneys are unable to remove these unnecessary (toxic) substances, they accumulate in the blood and harm the body. Unnecessary substances filtered by the kidneys are mixed with water and converted into urine. Urine is removed from the kidneys through tubes (ureters) and collected in the bladder. Urine, which contains unnecessary metabolic products and water, is removed from the body through the urethra during urination.

2. Participation in bone building.

The kidneys produce vitamin D which is essential for the absorption of calcium from food. In addition, it is essential for bone health. Vitamin D is created partly in the skin through sun exposure and activated in the kidneys and partly absorbed from food.

3. Participation in the production of red blood cells.

The kidneys produce a hormone, erythropoietin, which stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. When there is kidney failure in an organism less erythropoietin is produced resulting in a decrease in red blood cells (anemia).

4. Involvement in blood pressure regulation

The kidneys help regulate blood pressure by removing excess salt from the body (sodium) and other minerals (phosphorus, potassium, calcium.) Blood pressure changes with age, stress and the presence of various diseases.

What is kidney failure & how is it treated?

Renal dysfunction is divided into two categories.

The first category can lead to acute renal failure while the second to chronic renal failure.

Acute renal failure is a syndrome characterized by sudden suppression of the nephron, to such an extent that there is a deficiency in maintaining the quality and quantity of body fluids at normal levels. As a result, fluids and electrolytes accumulate in the body.

Symptoms of acute renal failure:

  • Little or no urine production
  • Anorexia
  • Edema
  • Anxiety, stress, drowsiness
  • Shortness of breath, chest pain

Each kidney contains tiny filters, the nephrons, which cleanse the blood of useless substances produced by the metabolism. In addition, they regulate electrolytes and body water. In the final stage of Chronic Kidney Disease, the kidneys are unable to perform their function, resulting in the accumulation of toxic substances and fluids in the patient’s blood.

Slowing down or even inhibiting the progression of Chronic Renal Failure is based on the following therapeutic goals:

  • Early treatment of primary disease
  • Low protein and phosphorus diet
  • Dramatic treatment of albuminuria
  • Avoid or limit salt intake.
  • Blood pressure regulation <130/80mmHg (mainly via ACE inhibitors, ARB)
  • Satisfactory glycemic control of a diabetic patient (glycosylated Hb Hb <7,5%)
  • Treatment of hyperlipidemia
  • Stop smoking

The progression of Chronic Renal Insufficiency leads to the stage of kidney disease where it is deemed necessary to replace kidney function either through dialysis, or through peritoneal dialysis, or through kidney transplantation.

What is dialysis?

Dialysis is the treatment that removes toxins and fluids from the blood that are retained by the body due to kidney damage. It is very important patient to receive the correct dose of dialysis because this improves

  • your overall health
  • years and quality of life increase
  • the chances of hospitalization are reduced

How is dialysis performed?

The dialysis procedure is the most common method of substituting renal function.

  • Through a filter placed in a machine called an “artificial kidney”. Inside the filter the blood comes in contact through a porous membrane with a fluid that removes toxins from the blood. At the same time the “purified” blood returns to the patient’s vein. This process is repeated several times during the session with the aim of balancing fluids and electrolytes in the patient’s blood and ensuring his survival. In order to achieve good quality cleansing, the factors involved in it must be of good quality. The main regulator is the dialysis filter.

Για την αιμοκάθαρση χρειάζεται ο “artificial kidney,”, a fistula, or a catheter inserted into a large vein.

  • A fistula is a surgical connection between an artery and a vein, usually in the upper extremity, which is done under local anesthesia so that the vein can grow and become larger so that adequate blood flow can be achieved during the dialysis session.
  • The venous catheter is a small plastic tube that allows access to dialysis. When placed in a large vein it is called a central venous catheter. When placed in a large vein it is called a central venous catheter.

The process requires:

  • Vascular access – fistula, synthetic implant, temporary or permanent catheter
  • Needles and dialysis lines
  • Hemodialysis filter
  • Solution

What can the patient do during dialysis?

During dialysis, the patient is placed in a seat with an adjustable back and thus is given the opportunity to use this time constructively as he can either read, or use his cell phone or laptop, watch TV, listen to music, talk and even sleep as there is no discomfort during dialysis. However, it is not possible for him to walk during this process.

Does the patient’s life change after dialysis?

Hemodialysis is a chronic and repetitive process. The patient is called upon to adapt to a new lifestyle as chronic kidney failure involves a significant change in standard of living. This new way requires spending a significant portion of his time in the kidney unit, following dietary rules, taking medications and being consistent with them.

Modern dialysis treats the dialysis patient as an active member of societyin all areas of daily life (employee, athlete, student, etc.).

Effective communication with medical and nursing staff, psychological support, accessibility to health services and the provision of quality care seem to reduce the need for daily nursing care for patients with Chronic Renal Failure and improve the standard of living.

The success of a good quality of life is based on the good cooperation of the patient-doctor-nurse triangle and the philosophy of treating the chronic patient as a valuable and independent unit.