Medically reviewed by Adnan Alsaka, MD McLeod Nephrology Associates
Most people know that a cardiologist is concerned with the heart. Or a gynecologist, women. Or a urologist, bladder and its problems. But a nephrologist? Not so many.
“Nephrology is the study of the kidney and its diseases,” prompted McLeod Nephrologist Adnan Alsaka, MD. “Each person has 2 kidneys – about the size of a fist. The kidneys have important roles – removing waste products and excess fluid from the body in the form of urine, while producing hormones that control healthy levels of acid and calcium, as well as regulating blood pressure.”
The two leading causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. People most at risk are individuals with:
THE NEPHROLOGIST’S ROLE
A nephrologist’s job is to diagnose and treat kidney problems. Chronic Kidney Disease has no cure. At its worst, the kidney fails completely requiring dialysis or a transplant. The nephrologist works to control the chronic disease, its symptoms and causes. Efforts involve controlling your blood sugar for diabetes and blood pressure for hypertension. They may also help you control cholesterol levels and weight.
Until Chronic Kidney Disease becomes very serious, a person may not notice any symptoms. One illustration of how difficult it is to recognize kidney disease: People already being treated at a clinic for kidney disease, were asked whether they had kidney disease. One out of 3 said “no.”
Another reason it’s difficult for a person to know if they have Chronic Kidney Disease is that symptoms – when they appear – can also be caused by other problems, some as simple as muscle strain.
These symptoms can help you spot kidney disease:
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Early diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease is important to delaying dialysis or preventing the need for a kidney transplant.
If you have the risk factors listed above, you should be tested annually by a nephrologist, who will measure certain substances in your blood. If the nephrologist thinks you may have kidney stones, you may also have an ultrasound, X-ray or CT scan.
If you are experiencing the warning signs, see your personal physician soon. They may refer you to a nephrologist.
Find a physician near you.
Find a nephrologist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American College of Physicians, International Journal of Nephrology, Medicine.net, National Institutes of Health, American Journal of Kidney Disease