What Are Nephrologists?
Clinical nephrologists are medical clinicians specializing in kidney disease treatment and general care of the kidneys. The kidneys are vital to the maintenance of normal fluid levels and electrolyte balance within your body and nephrologists address any problem or concerns with this aspect of bodily functionality. We can measure the kidney’s functions by observing how well they clean the blood.
The primary responsibility of a nephrology specialist is to preserve kidney function while managing dialysis care for people experiencing end stage renal disease. Kidney specialist clinicians also manage the conditions that kidney disease can produce. In order to do so, our nephrologists complete over 7 years of medical schooling and post grad training before earning their certification in Internal Medicine. Aside from educational training, kidney specialist clinicians study kidney disorders and their effects on the body for an additional 2 years+.
Our nephrologists refer treatment for kidney cancer, removal of kidney stones, and prostate procedures to urologists. When it comes to care management, dietitians, renal social workers, and renal nurses are typically available for nephrologic aid. When our patients require a kidney transplant or dialysis, we provide them with necessary information then refer the them to a trusted transplant center.
When should you see a Nephrologist?
Nephrologists make sure patients impacted by kidney disease and other kidney ailments are treated properly. It is best to see a nephrologist immediately after you begin experiencing any symptoms of kidney struggle. Understanding when you need to see a nephrologist begins with understanding your symptoms. Here are some of the common reasons for being referred to one of our nephrologists:
- Chronic or recurring urinary tract infections, kidney stones, or blood (Hematuria) or protein loss (Proteinuria) in your urine.
- Long term or frequent infections such as Pyelonephritis (kidney) or cystitis (bladder).
- Hypertensive nephrosclerosis or kidney damage due to uncontrollable high blood pressure not responding positively to medication.
- An accelerated decline in kidney or renal functionality, usually with an inexorable rise in creatinine.
- A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 30 or lower
- Kidneys or urinary bladder cancer, Acid base imbalance, or electrolyte disorders.
What happens during a visit to the nephrologist?
Before any of our nephrologists think about treatment options, they spend time analyzing your medical history while questioning you about possible symptoms you may be experiencing. Once our kidney specialist clinicians understand your current health situation, they begin the examination process.
A blood test, urinalysis, urine culture, sonogram, kidney biopsy, or even an X Ray can be performed. These tests are specifically focused on serum creatinine (muscle activity), electrolytes, and urea. If the function of your kidneys are slowing, blood levels of creatinine begin to rise. If your blood vessels are affected, angiography or magnetic resonance imaging is used.
In some cases, nephrologists also take advantage of ultrasounds that scan the urinary tract and renal blood vessels. Additionally, a 24-hour sample of urine can be very helpful for a clinical nephrologist when it comes to understanding the specific amount of protein lost during malfunction.
If we’re unsure of the stage you’re currently in, a renal biopsy is used to obtain a tissue diagnosis. When suspecting mass lesions, CT Scans are used to help diagnose nephrolithiasis. Nuclear medication (Scinitigraphy) is rarely used, but helpful when determining actuality of renal function.
When determining the best treatment plan for our patients, we highly consider medications that control inflammation, the discontinued use of medications that are harmful to kidney function, and changes to your diet that impact blood pressure while preserving your kidneys.
Common diseases affiliated with Nephrology
- Acute and Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) – specifically stage 4 or 5.
- Acute renal failure, or the sudden loss of renal function
- Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)
- Acute Renal Failure
- Kidney Transplantation and Dialysis
- Glomerular diseases
- Tubulointerstitial diseases
- Mineral metabolism
- End stage renal disease and dialysis
- Atheroembolic kidney disease or kidney damage due to atherosclerosis and resulting thrombosis
- Renal blood vessel disease
- Nephritic and Nephrotic syndrome
- Acute tubular necrosis
- Dialysis and chronic complications – Including hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.
- Autoimmune diseases including autoimmune vasculitis, lupus, etc.
- Hydronephrosis or damage to the kidneys due to backward flow of urine possibly due to obstruction in the outflow of urine.
- Tubulo/interstitial renal diseases
- Cystic diseases including polycystic kidney disease where fluid filled sacs are formed in the kidney impairing functions
- Clinical disorders of major electrolytes (Potassium K+, Calcium Ca2+, Magnesium Mg2+, Phosphates PO42- )
Once you’ve determined you’re experiencing problems with your kidneys, it’s imperative that you find the right Nephrologist for your current situation.
Our kidney specialist clinicians have the ability to visit with patients in their homes, on-the-go, via telemedicine, or within our local clinics. Choose the most convenient option for you while taking advantage of our experienced medical professionals.