Medically Reviewed by Subash Regmi, MD
More than one out of 10 people in this country suffer from long-term, chronic kidney disease. McLeod Nephrologist Subash Regmi, MD, explains the role of a Nephrologist and how they treat chronic kidney disease:
Here are key points from Dr. Regmi’s comments
We treat kidney disease. Mainly, the kidneys clean our blood and rid it of extra fluid through urine. Any disease related to the kidneys could be either “acute,” (happens quickly) or chronic disease (an ongoing, long-lasting problem). Nephrologists evaluate the disease process, what’s going on and treat patients for the effects of chronic kidney disease. With acute kidney disease, we manage the problem for a quick recovery. But a chronic issue requires us to continually follow-up with the patient, see them in our office and keep an eye on their kidney issues.
One aspect we treat is hypertension. Family physicians treat high blood pressure, but when it becomes difficult to manage with a patient on more than two or three medications, we help the primary care physicians control the blood pressure. Along with that, there are other aspects of kidney disease, like kidney stones that we manage.
Our job is to stabilize the kidney function and, most importantly, look at what medications the patient is on, because sometimes we need to cut back the doses of the medication. We look into that, taking care of the blood pressure and diabetes.
The kidney basically cleans the blood. Blood goes through the kidney, where it’s filtered. During filtration, toxins are removed, urine is formed and it carries the toxins out of the body. The kidney’s main job is to remove those toxins, but here are other important functions.
One of those is helping with the blood count. People with kidney disease are often anemic, because the formation of blood requires a hormone called erythropoietin. That hormone is produced in the kidney. In people with kidney disease, that hormone level decreases and they become anemic.
We treat kidney-related anemia by giving the patient a hormone injection every two to four weeks.
The kidney also helps build bone cells. The kidney produces an active form of vitamin D, which helps with the blood count, our bones and mineral metabolism. If a patient’s bones are weaker due to kidney disease, we treat them with extra vitamin D.
Also, the kidney helps control blood pressure. So, you can see that are many different systems and hormones, which regulate our blood pressure. One of them is in our kidneys, one of many functions controlled by or related to the kidneys.
Once that kidney function worsens to a point, where they need dialysis or transplant, we can help them with those options as well.