How Long Can You Live Without Dialysis?

Dialysis is a treatment method that is used to purify the blood, by removing the wastes and water from the blood, using a machine. This is done when the kidneys, the natural blood purifier and waste remover of the body, stop working properly. There are different types of dialysis methods. The doctor recommends the most suitable method for the patient, depending on his or her health condition or disease requirements.

A typical dialysis procedure continues for about 4 to 6 hours and is done a few times a week. This can be more frequent or less, depending on the requirement.

How Long Can You Live Without Dialysis?

How Long Can You Live Without Dialysis?

However, whether a person wants to undergo a dialysis treatment or not is a personal decision and it can be a difficult one. In usual cases, even after 90% of the kidney function failure, the kidneys can still manage to filter the blood and remove the wastes. It is when even the required 10% of the kidneys are not functioning that support is needed.

Yet, when a person decides to withdraw from the dialysis treatment or undergo any further dialysis, it is unlikely that the patient would live further. It cannot be specified as to how long a person would live without dialysis. It would completely depend on the medical condition or the kidney function of the person. If the patient’s kidneys are not functioning at all, the patient would survive only for a few days to a few weeks. However, in case the kidney function is comparatively better, survival will be prolonged.

Here, it must be mentioned that when the patient doesn’t undergo a dialysis treatment, he or she will experience the symptoms. As the toxins of the blood will not get removed from the body, the patient will feel tired and lethargic and will get itches all over the body. With fluid deposition in the body, breathing will be troubled.

However, all these symptoms are managed initially with medicines. The doctor will try to remove the fluid deposition, in order to support the patient to have a better breathing experience and limit fluid intake to avoid any further fluid supply to the body. Itchiness and tiredness as well as any sort of pain are managed with medicines prescribed by the doctor.

Unfortunately, none of these will expand the life expectancy. The patient is given the choice of staying at home or at the hospital for the “end-of-life” period.

Many people take the decision of not undergoing the dialysis treatment. There are many reasons behind this decision that include –

  • The patients are quite older in age and think that they lived enough
  • They already have other diseases and health issues that cause them severe pain
  • They have ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) that cannot be cured
  • There isn’t much that dialysis would help them with
  • The burdens of dialysis outweigh its benefits
  • The patients think that they are causing burden to the family members and prefer not to prolong the suffering.

Whatever the reason may be, the family and loved ones of the patient should respect the decision of the patient. Depending on the type of insurance, they can choose to stay at home or at the nursing home or hospital, with or without medical support. The symptom management and living in as much comfort as possible, under a medical supervision is called a hospice treatment or management that can be arranged at the hospital or even at home. However, it is a fact that in case of end stage renal disease, a patient cannot survive for more than a few weeks. In such a case, if the patient has other diseases as well, medicines for the other diseases are also stopped as treatment is no longer a priority.

Can You Live Without Dialysis

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 20, 2018

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