What is Dialysis? And Why is it Needed? Many have heard the term dialysis, but a lot of people don’t actually know what it is or why it’s used. If you’re in that same boat, keep reading. Let’s first start with the your kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from the blood. Dialysis is a procedure that is a substitute for many of the normal functions of the kidneys. The kidneys are two organs located on either side in the back of the abdominal cavity. Dialysis can allow individuals to live productive and useful lives, even though their kidneys no longer work adequately. There are over 450,000 patients in the united states receiving dialysis. What does Dialysis do? Dialysis helps the body by performing the functions of failed kidneys. The kidney has many roles. An essential job of the kidney is to regulate the body's fluid balance. It does this by adjusting the amount of urine that is excreted on a daily basis. On hot days, the body sweats more. Thus, less water needs to be excreted through the kidneys. On cold days, the body sweats less. Thus, urine output needs to be greater in order to maintain the proper balance within the body. It is the kidney's job to regulate fluid balance by adjusting urine output. When the kidneys fail to filter the blood effectively, and fluid and waste products build up in the body to a critical level a person may need to start dialysis. The two main causes of kidney failure and need for dialysis treatment are diabetes and high blood pressure. When a person’s levels of waste products in their body become so high they start to become sick from them, he or she may need dialysis. The level of the waste products usually builds up slowly. To help doctors decide when dialysis is necessary for a patient, they will order tests that measure several blood chemical levels in the patient’s body generally via a urine sample. The doctor also uses other indicators of the patient's status to decide about the need for dialysis. If the patient is experiencing a major inability to rid the body of excess water, or is complaining of problems with the heart, lungs, or stomach, or difficulties with taste or sensation in their legs, dialysis may be indicated even though the creatinine clearance has not fallen to the 10 cc per minute level. Have more questions about Dialysis or having kidney problems? Ask your doctor.