Your body is a complex machine, and each organ plays a vital role in keeping you healthy. One of the most important organs in your body is the kidneys. These bean-shaped organs, located on either side of the spine, are responsible for filtering waste products and excess fluids from your blood.
When your kidneys are not functioning properly, it can lead to various health problems. A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in nephrology and treats kidney and related problems.
Let’s talk about nephrologists and explore why you may need to see a nephrologist.
What is a Nephrologist?
A nephrologist is a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions and diseases affecting the kidneys. They undergo extensive training beyond medical school, including a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in nephrology. This rigorous training equips them with the skills and knowledge to tackle a wide array of kidney-related issues.
Nephrologists manage conditions such as chronic kidney disease, polycystic kidney disease, acute renal failure, kidney stones, and high blood pressure. They also provide care to patients requiring kidney replacement therapies, including dialysis and kidney transplantation.
Why Would You See a Nephrologist?
There are several reasons why you might need to see a nephrologist. Here are the most common ones:
Experiencing Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Kidney disease is often referred to as a “silent” disease because it can progress unnoticed until it has reached an advanced stage. It’s vital to recognize the signs and symptoms of kidney disease early for effective treatment and management.
Here are some common symptoms of kidney disease for which you should see a nephrologist.
- Fatigue and Weakness: Healthy kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO), which prompts your body to make red blood cells that carry oxygen. As kidney function declines, they make less EPO, leading to fewer red blood cells and causing fatigue and weakness.
- Changes in Urination: Kidneys produce urine, so when they’re failing, you may notice changes such as increased frequency, decreased volume, blood in urine, or foamy urine.
- Swelling: Kidneys help remove extra fluid from your body. When they’re not working well, this fluid can build up, causing swelling in your hands, feet, ankles, or face.
- Shortness of Breath: This could be linked to both fluid buildup and anemia, both of which can result from kidney disease.
- Metallic Taste in Mouth or Ammonia Breath: A buildup of wastes in the blood (uremia) can cause these symptoms.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Uremia, a condition in which urea and other waste substances build up in the bloodstream because they can’t be eliminated through urine as they normally would be, can also cause nausea and vomiting.
- Feeling Cold All the Time: Anemia resulting from kidney issues can make you feel cold all the time, even in a warm environment.
- Skin Rash/Itching: Kidneys remove wastes from the bloodstream. When they fail, the buildup of waste in your blood can cause severe itching and skin rashes.
- Difficulty Concentrating or Poor Memory: Anemia related to kidney failure means that your brain is not getting enough oxygen, which may lead to memory problems or trouble with concentration.
Family History of Kidney Disease
Genetics can play a significant role in developing certain types of kidney disease. For example, polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys. If one parent carries the gene for PKD, their child has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease.
Family history can also indicate a predisposition to other risk factors for kidney disease, like diabetes or high blood pressure, which also have a genetic component and are leading causes of kidney disease.
If you have a family history of kidney disease, it’s crucial to communicate this information to the nephrologist. They may recommend regular screening tests, such as blood and urine, to monitor kidney function.
Preventive measures can also help lower your risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and limiting alcohol intake.
Having Chronic Conditions that Affect the Kidneys
There are several chronic conditions that can affect the kidneys and lead to kidney disease. These include:
- Diabetes: This is a leading cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD). High blood sugar levels caused by diabetes can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, impairing their ability to filter waste from the blood effectively.
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Like diabetes, high blood pressure is one of the most common causes of CKD. Over time, uncontrolled hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the kidneys, hindering their function.
It’s important to see a nephrologist to manage these conditions to prevent or slow the progression of kidney disease.
Considering Kidney Transplant or Dialysis
If you have kidney failure, dialysis and kidney transplantation may be necessary to maintain life. A nephrologist can help manage your dialysis treatment and determine if you are a candidate for kidney transplantation.
Nephrologist for Kidney Disease in Abington, MA
Visiting a nephrologist is essential for detecting kidney disease early, treating chronic kidney disease, managing diabetes and high blood pressure, and preparing for a dialysis or kidney transplant. Early management of kidney disease can prevent it from progressing and damaging your kidneys, leading to overall better health and well-being.
So, if you are experiencing symptoms or have a family history of kidney disease, don’t hesitate to consult our board-certified kidney specialists at Associates in Nephrology for a comprehensive evaluation and highly personalized treatment. Our nephrologists are committed to providing the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention for a comprehensive range of conditions of kidneys, such as chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, glomerulonephritis, renal failure, end-stage kidney disease, and others. At our nephrology clinic, we also offer kidney transplant services and dialysis services for your convenience.
To learn more about our kidney doctors or schedule a consultation with one of our kidney specialists at Associates in Nephrology, complete our easy-to-use appointment request form or call our office team today.