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A nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the kidneys. They may also additionally treat associated conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. The specialty is known as nephrology meaning study of the functions of the kidneys. Unlike urology, it is not a surgical specialty, but a branch of internal medicine. The doctor may further specialize to treat cancer of the kidneys such as onconephrology or kidney disease in children as in the case of pediatric nephrology.The scope of kidney diseases treated by a nephrologist includes kidney stones, hematuria (blood in urine), proteinuria (albumin in the urine), kidney infections, polycystic kidneys, acute kidney disorders, chronic kidney disease, and kidney failure.The other disorders for which you should see a kidney doctor are electrolyte imbalances, glomerulonephritis, high creatinine levels and poor GFR (glomerular filtration rate).In those with pre-diagnosed kidney disease, a nephrologist helps in the preservation of kidney health by means of appropriate medications, dietary tips, fluid restrictions and therapies such as dialysis or renal transplants.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the role of a nephrologist?
If you are experiencing symptoms that suggest kidney problems, then a nephrologist is the doctor to consult as they diagnose and treat conditions of the kidneys. Nephrologists are trained to handle kidney problems like chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, renal failure, and they have extensive knowledge about dialysis and kidney transplantation.
Are urologists and nephrologists the same?
The duties of doctors from both these specialties vary only slightly. Both specialists treat conditions affecting the kidneys. But a urologist is more focused on the anatomical and structural problems of the urinary tract, which includes kidneys. Some examples are kidney stones, kidney cancer, and kidney obstruction. A nephrologist, on the other hand, focuses more on how the kidneys function, and how other conditions affect this functioning. For example, the effects of diabetes and high blood pressure on the kidneys.
Can a nephrologist perform surgeries?
No, nephrologists are not surgeons and usually do not perform surgeries. They sometimes might collect tissue samples from the kidney to diagnose a condition.
What to expect during your first nephrologist visit?
On your first visit, like all other doctors, the nephrologist will take a complete history, which includes medical history, family history, and symptoms. If needed, he or she might perform a physical examination. They will check for other medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or autoimmune disease that can affect kidney health.
When is it best to consult a nephrologist?
It is best to consult a nephrologist if you experience signs and symptoms like reduced urine output, swollen ankles and feet, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and seizures, as these are signs of kidney problems.
What are the diseases that a nephrologist treats?
The conditions that a nephrologist treats are blood in urine, chronic kidney disease, kidney infection, kidney cancer, polycystic kidney disease, end-stage kidney disease, and kidney failure.
What are the first and early signs of kidney problems?
Fatigue or tiredness, feeling cold when it is warm outside, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, confusion, feeling itchy, swelling in hands and feet, puffy face, foamy urine, and blood in the urine are some of the early signs and symptoms of kidney problems.
What creatinine level is considered to be dangerous?
The normal creatinine level in men is 0.7 to 1.3 mg.dL and in women is 0.6 to 1.1 mg/dL. Any value more than this is considered to be abnormal and indicates some extent of renal failure.
How does one feel when the kidneys hurt?
Pain in the kidney is usually felt as a dull ache on the side of the affected kidney. This pain aggravates if you injure that area or press on it.