Kidneys are the organs in our body that we do not think much about, but they contribute a lot to our daily life. Nephrology is part of medicines that perform some of the vital functions in the body that is significant for the sustenance of life. They are located near the top of the abdomen against the back muscles and are found on both the left and the right sides of the body.
The kidneys carry out multiple functions that are vital for good health. In addition to removing toxins and expelling surplus water from the body as urine, they regulate the balance of minerals and chemicals in the blood. They also secrete hormones that help in the production of red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, control calcium metabolism, and create an active form of vitamin D that improves bone health.
If this hardworking organ fails to function properly, the balance of the body will be disrupted and severe kidney complications may also lead to fatal illnesses.
The doctor who specializes in kidney health and treating kidney diseases is referred to as a nephrologist. They commonly treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) and manage dialysis care for patients with renal disease. This physician can diagnose and treat kidney failure and help patients recover with medications, kidney-specific diet plans, and dialysis care if required.
Before understanding the role of a nephrologist, it is essential to know more about the discipline of nephrology. So, here is a brief description of nephrology to help you comprehend this medical speciality in a better way.
An Overview of the Specialty of Nephrology
The domain of Nephrology deals with the physiology and ailments related to the kidneys. kidneys can be damaged due to a physical injury or because of some diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions. Let us have a look at the most common kidney diseases below.
Kidney Failure: In this medical condition, the kidneys are unable to sufficiently filter toxins from the blood.
Kidney Disease: There are various causes leading to kidney disease which can damage the organ so that it fails to remove excess water and waste from the body. When left untreated, kidney disease can result in kidney failure.
Renal Insufficiency: This is the poor functioning of the kidneys that is caused by the shed flow of blood to the kidneys as a result of a renal artery disorder.
Diabetic Kidney Condition: Most of the cases of kidney failure are caused by diabetes. Diabetes nephropathy occurs when prolonged medical health issues lead to kidney disease.
Kidney Failure Resulting from Hypertension: Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition that is caused when the arteries have persistently increased blood pressure which can damage other organs of the body. It can also lead to multiple other ailments, like kidney failure, aneurysms, and heart conditions.
Lupus Nephritis: This is an inflammation of the kidney that occurs because of systemic lupus erythematosus, which is a disease of the immune system.
Nephrotic Syndrome: This is a syndrome that occurs when your body excretes excessive protein through urine. This disorder is generally caused by damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys that filter excess fluids and waste from the blood.
What is the Role of a Nephrologist?
Patients with renal or kidney conditions visit a nephrologist after being referred by their primary care doctor. After learning the patient’s previous medical history and the associated symptoms, the specialist suggests urine and blood examinations to determine the condition of his/her kidneys. They may also ask the patient to do an ultrasound test to examine closely the diseased kidneys.
When a nephrologist identifies the exact cause of kidney dysfunction in a patient, he/she diagnoses the problem and may also take the help of other medical specialists if required. If they suspect a kidney disease in a patient, they may suggest further tests to determine what stage the condition is in. In accordance with that, they plan the course of treatment for the patient.
The role of a nephrologist does not usually include surgeries, like removing kidney stones or treating kidney cancer patients. But they do conduct kidney biopsies to identify chronic kidney diseases or other conditions. The surgical procedures fall under the purview of a urologist.
Though your primary care physician can manage and treat the early stages of the kidney disease, a visit to a nephrologist is a must for more complicated, advanced, and chronic kidney diseases.
Knowing about what is the role of a nephrologist, you can understand the importance of this specialist in diagnosing and treating any kidney problems. Visit this doctor as early as possible to prevent further damage to your kidneys, get maximum relief, and recuperate from the illness quickly.