Nephrology is the study of the kidney and diseases that affect them. This includes management of renal replacement therapy (dialysis and transplantation), systemic diseases that affect the kidney (such as diabetes and hypertension) as well as autoimmune diseases (such as Lupus).
A nephrologist is a physician with three years residency in Internal Medicine following medical school, leading to Board Certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine. This is followed by two or more years of a fellowship in an accredited Nephrology Program. In addition to general nephrologists, ENA also has interventional nephrologists who specialize in vascular access, as well as transplant nephrologists who specialize in kidney transplantation.
Not only do the kidneys remove waste and fluids from your body, they also regulate your body water and other chemicals in your blood; remove drugs and toxins; and release hormones into your blood that help produce red blood cells, regulate blood pressure and strengthen bones.
The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. These two conditions are responsible for two-thirds of all cases.
Patients may notice some of the following: tiredness and less energy; trouble concentrating; poor appetite; trouble sleeping; muscle cramping at night; swollen feet and ankles; puffiness around the eyes especially in the morning; dry, itchy skin; and frequent urination, especially at night.
African Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and senior citizens are at increased risk for developing chronic kidney disease.
Early detection can be made through the following: blood pressure measurement; tests for protein in the urine; and tests for blood creatinine.
Kidney failure is treated with hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplantation.
Dialysis is prescribed when a patient develops end stage kidney failure, which is usually by the time 85 to 90 percent of kidney function is lost.
Dialysis is a treatment used to mimic healthy kidney function in the body. It removes waste, salt and extra water from the body; maintains a safe level of certain chemicals in the blood; and helps to control blood pressure.
Dialysis can be conducted in a hospital, dialysis unit or in a patient’s home. The location is determined between a patient and their physician.
Dialysis may sustain life and allow patients to continue their normal activities, but it is not a cure.
In order to maintain proper kidney health, one must drink plenty of fluids; exercise regularly; avoid smoking; maintain a healthy weight; and routinely get checked for diabetes and high blood pressure.