Nephrology is the field of study of internal medicine that focuses on the treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the kidney.
Kidneys are located below the ribcage on either side of our spine. They perform an important role in our excretory system and are responsible for removing excess water, toxins, and waste from our bodies. Kidney diseases may cause serious harm to the body and need to be checked regularly.
Table of content:
1. What does a Nephrologist do?
2. Conditions treated by a nephrologist
3. How do they check for renal diseases?
4. When to consult a nephrologist?
What does a Nephrologist do?
A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in treating diseases and issues related to the kidney. They not only expertise in kidney-related diseases but are also know about how specific kidney diseases or dysfunctions can affect the rest of the body.
They are often consulted for severe and more complex kidney issues and are well-versed in the field.
Conditions treated by a nephrologist
Nephrologists often diagnosis and treat several kidney issues which include:
- Blood or protein in the urine
- Chronic kidney disease
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infections
- Swelling of kidneys due to glomerulonephritis or intestinal nephritis
- Kidney cancer
- Renal artery stenosis
- Nephrotic syndrome
- End-stage kidney disease
- Kidney failure, both acute and chronic
They can also be involved when other external factors affect the kidney or cause kidney diseases like:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune conditions like lupus
How do they check for renal disease?
If you are seeking help from a nephrologist, they may ask you to undergo a certain number of tests and procedures to interpret the results.
A wide range of laboratory tests is suggested to access the proper functioning of the kidneys. These are generally performed on the blood or urine of the patients
- Blood tests- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR), serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Urine tests: Urinalysis, Albumin/creatinine ratio (ACR), 24-hour urine collection, creatinine clearance
In addition to tests, a number of procedures may be performed on the patient like:
- Imaging tests of the kidneys, such as ultrasounds, CT scan, or X-rays
- Dialysis, including placement of the dialysis catheter
- Kidney biopsies
- Kidney transplants
When to consult a nephrologist?
A primary care doctor can often look into the early stages of kidney problems. However, sometimes the early stages of various kidney diseases and conditions do not show any specific symptoms or may have non-specific symptoms like fatigue, sleeping problems and changes in the amount of urination.
Regular testing if you have issues may help keep a check. These include:
- high blood pressure
- history of kidney problems in family
- heart disease
To prevent serious damage to the kidneys, it is better to consult one at the earliest. Proper treatment and care can lead to early recovery.