idney Disorders – Kidneys are an important organ in the human excretory system. They filter the blood and remove unwanted toxins and excess fluid. Kidneys are responsible for maintaining a balance of electrolytes in the body and also create urine to flush out toxins. Any disorder in the functioning of the kidneys leads to kidney diseases. A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases is known as a nephrologist or a kidney specialist. They treat a number of conditions that affect the functioning of the kidneys.
What are the problems treated by nephrologists?
Nephrologists treat a whole range of kidney problems. Some of the diseases treated by kidney specialists are as follows.
- Acute Kidney Disease – Also known as Acute Kidney Injury, this condition arises due to reduced blood flow to the kidneys, dehydration, or problems arising due to surgery.
- Kidney Stones – When some waste materials are not flushed out, they crystallize and form stones inside the kidneys.
- Infections – Urinary Tract infections, which include conditions such as the presence of bacteria in urine, bladder infections, and kidney infections.
- Kidney diseases caused due to diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.
- Congenital kidney problems.
- Kidney diseases caused by Lupus.
- Hereditary kidney diseases like polycystic kidney disease.
- Autoimmune diseases of the kidney.
- Kidney failure.
Apart from diagnosing and treating kidney diseases, doctors also offer treatment to manage the symptoms of kidney diseases.
What are some of the common symptoms of kidney diseases?
The symptoms of kidney diseases depend on the type of disorder. Doctors state that the main symptom of kidney disorders is the absence of any prominent symptoms. However, some common symptoms of kidney disorders are as follows.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Difficulty in urinating
- Excessive pain
The symptoms of kidney diseases are very vague. Some diseases may not present any symptoms until they reach the final stage of severity. Hence, it is advisable to consult the best kidney specialist if your family doctor suspects any problems in your kidneys.
How are Kidney Disorders Diagnosed?
Initially, the doctor will ask about your family history and personal health history. Some kidney disorders are genetic, and knowing the family history of kidney diseases helps the nephrologist in proper diagnosis.
The doctor will then have a physical examination conducted, and check for problems in the heart and blood vessels as kidney disorders can cause irregular heartbeats and abnormal blood pressure.
The kidney specialist may order anyone or a couple of the following diagnostic tests.
- Blood test – Blood tests are conducted to ascertain the functioning of the kidney. The levels of creatinine and urea are measured in the blood test.
- Urine test – Urine tests help to analyze any abnormalities in the composition of urine that indicate kidney failure and other kidney disorders.
- Imaging tests- The nephrologist can conduct imaging tests to know the structure, size, position, and other parameters. CT scans, X-ray, 3D CT, MRI scan are some examples of the imaging procedures.
- Biopsy – Biopsy involves taking out a small sample from your kidney. It is done in severe cases of kidney problems. A biopsy is often performed under the influence of anesthesia. A thin needle is inserted inside the kidney to collect samples. These samples are sent to a medical lab for study and analysis.
What are the treatment options for Kidney disorders?
Kidney Specialist devises special treatment plans depending on the type of disorder. Some types of kidney disorders can be completely cured, while others can just be managed. The treatment for kidney disorders usually consists of the following.
- Measures to control or manage the symptoms of the disease.
The doctor may give you medications to manage symptoms such as high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, treat anemia, reduce swelling, and prescribe a low protein diet.
- Treatment to reduce the spread of the disease
The doctor may give medications or suggest surgery to eliminate the problem and reduce or stop the spread of the disease.
- End-stage care
When all other treatments fail to work, and the kidney condition worsens, your doctor may prescribe the end-stage care. It consists of dialysis and kidney transplant.
- Dialysis is used to artificially remove the waste products and extra fluids from the kidney.
- A kidney transplant involves replacing the damaged kidney with a healthy kidney from the donor.
What are the factors to consider while choosing a nephrologist?
Choosing the best nephrologist or kidney specialist is important to ensure that you get a timely diagnosis and correct treatment. Some factors to consider while choosing a nephrologist are:
- Qualifications of the nephrologist
- Certifications and other professional achievements
- Experience in treating kidney disorders that are similar to yours
- The success rate of his/her treatments
- Referrals from past patients
- Location of the hospital/clinic
- Fees and other charges