Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located in the abdomen toward your back and upwards of the hips. They run a number of vital physiological functions, including waste elimination in the form of urine. Your nephrologist, or kidney specialist, understands how the intricacies of kidney anatomy play a role in your overall health. Here’s more about nephrology and what your kidneys do for you.
What Do Your Kidneys Do?
Your kidneys are the twin organs that drive many metabolic and physiological processes. They are connected to the ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. The kidneys filter the waste products of metabolism and eliminate them from the body via urine.
Besides waste elimination, the kidneys regulate fluid balance, bone density, and blood pressure via electrolytes (salts and minerals) in the bloodstream. They also help produce red blood cells.
Located in the kidneys are nephrons. Nephrons are small filtration units contained in the pelvis, or interior cavity, of each kidney. The glomerulus of each nephron filters waste from the circulatory system, and its associated tubule sends the clean and filtered blood back through the body.
What Is the Difference Between a Urologist and Nephrologist?
When it comes to medical specialties, two kinds of physicians deal with the urinary tract and kidneys: the urologist and the nephrologist. A urologist deals with men’s health issues, such as prostate hypertrophy and cancer, and also deformities and diseases of the urinary tract, such as UTIs and kidney stones.
Nephrologists, on the other hand, are medical doctors who diagnose and treat diseases associated with the kidney itself. Examples include:
- Genetic malformations and diseases
- Chronic and acute kidney failure
- Blood pressure issues related to kidney function
- Fluid and electrolyte disorders
The nephrologist uses blood and urine tests to detect abnormal levels of proteins called creatinine and albumin. Both proteins, along with other diagnostic factors, tell the nephrologist about a patient’s glomerular filtration rate and if the individual is experiencing acute or chronic kidney failure.
Finally, you should consult a specialist in nephrology if you need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Dialysis–in effect an artificial kidney–filters toxins from the blood when the kidneys no longer function on their own. People with end-stage renal failure need dialysis or a kidney transplant to prolong their lives.
Other Ways Nephrologists Can Help You
Nephrologists diagnose and treat malformations and acute and chronic diseases of the kidneys. Additionally, a nephrologist can also help you deal with health problems, or comorbidities, such as diabetes. These issues may lead to, or exist along with, kidney health problems.
Your kidney specialist will tell you what to do and not do to help your kidneys. They will also give you medicine that can limit symptoms.
Finding the Best Nephrologist Near Me, Your Kidney Specialists in Southeastern Massachusetts
At Associates in Nephrology, our three board-certified kidney specialists are Drs. Lauer, Bohl, and Wu. We have two fully staffed locations to serve you–one in Taunton and the other in Brockton, Massachusetts.