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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Nephrologist?A nephrologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the care and treatment of kidney disease. She or he has thorough knowledge of the role and function of the kidneys. Other names by which a nephrologist may also be called are renal specialist or kidney doctor.
Where are my kidneys located?The average human has two kidneys that are located against the back muscles and sit opposite each other on the left and right side of the body. A normal adult kidney weighs approximately as much as an Iphone and is the size of a human fist.
What do my kidneys do?The kidneys have many functions that help us lead healthy lives. Several of the functions that the kidney performs are: · Maintenance of fluid balance · Maintenance of various ion concentrations · Regulation of blood composition. · Removal of wastes from the body (urea, ammonia, drugs, toxic substances). · Regulation of the blood pH. · Adjustment of blood pressure. · Production of red blood cells. · Regulation of the body's bone metabolism.
How do I know if something is wrong with my kidneys?Kidney disease often presents without any signs and symptoms and can go sometimes go unattended until it is picked up incidentally by a blood or urine test. Sometimes, increased weight gain, swelling of the legs, abdomen, and face, or shortness of breath may be a sign that something is wrong with your kidneys. Occasionally, changes in the pattern of urination may prompt medical attention. Fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, changes in skin appearance, change in taste, sleeping problems, and new onset high blood pressure may all be signs of kidney problems. Blood in the urine, a change in the appearance of the urine, or flank pain are also signs and symptoms that warrant a kidney evaluation.
How do I get my kidneys checked?A primary care physician typically runs blood tests that check the serum levels of blood urea nitrogen and creatinine. An abnormality in these levels indicates a kidney problem and will prompt a referral to a nephrologist. A urine sample is also a simple way to check for signs of kidney damage.
When should I see a Nephrologist?Your primary care physician may refer you to a nephrologist after an evaluation of your blood and urine tests, particularly if you have diabetes or hypertension. If you have a family history of kidney disease, you may wish to seek evaluation by a nephrologist to determine if you are at risk. Many chronic medical conditions impact the kidneys and a renal consultation can help guide appropriate therapy. Difficulty with blood pressure control, nutritional guidance for kidney stone problems, or the development of any of the above signs and symptoms are all appropriate reasons for seeking a consultation with a kidney doctor. Finally, any person who wishes to gain awareness of their kidney health may want to consult with a nephrologist.
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