Nephrology is a branch of medical science that concerns with the study of kidney function and kidney problems. A nephrologist is a physician who deals with the ailments and diseases related to the kidney. A nephrologist is also known as a renal doctor.
What does a nephrology doctor do?
A doctor of nephrology diagnoses and manages kidney diseases. Kidneys are one of the most vital organs of the human body responsible for maintaining electrolyte balance and normal fluid. A kidney doctor treats the following diseases:
- Fluid and electrolyte disorders like hypercalcemia, metabolic alkalosis, hypokalemia, hyperuricemia, hypermagnesemia, etc
- Acute kidney failure
- Renal failure complications
- Tubular Necrosis
- Uric Acid Nephropathy
- Chronic kidney diseases such as azotaemia and uraemia
- Glomerular diseases such as chronic glomerulonephritis, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, proteinuria, crescentic glomerulonephritis, etc
- Hereditary kidney disorders such as Alport syndrome, horseshoe kidney and medullary sponge kidney
- Renal Cell Carcinoma
- Renal Manifestations of Sickle Cell Disease
- Ureteropelvic Junction Obstruction
- Urinary Tract Obstruction
- Vesicoureteral Reflux
- Pyelonephritis Empiric Therapy
- Pyelonephritis Organism-Specific Therapy
- Tubulointerstitial Nephritis
- Kidney stones
- Renal Transitional Cell Carcinoma
- Retroperitoneal Fibrosis
- Secondary Polycythemia
A kidney specialist needs to be well aware of the medications, kidney infections and the nutritional management for treatment and prevention of kidney diseases.
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
People having kidney disease may not know about it as the early signs and symptoms can be very subtle. The journey from chronic kidney disease to kidney failure can take years. Given below are some of the symptoms of kidney diseases:
- Change in urination
- Fatigue and having trouble in concentrating
- Trouble in sleeping
- Blood in urine
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Poor appetite
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure
It is important to note that the symptoms of kidney failure /diseases are nonspecific i.e. it can be caused due to other illnesses as well. Signs may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred. In a case of kidney failure, dialysis or transplantation are the only options.
Diet plan for kidney patients
Diet is vital while treating and managing kidney diseases. Patients suffering from kidney ailments need to track how much nutrients they take in. The meal plan depends on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, one may have little limits. However, with the worsening of the condition, the doctor may recommend limiting fluids, potassium, sodium and phosphorous. The dietician plans the renal diet plan and patients must strictly follow that.
Nephrologists manage dialysis care for patients with end stages of their renal diseases. Since many of these diseases are chronic conditions, one needs to remain under the care of the nephrologist for a long term.