While your primary care physician is an excellent resource for your overall health, there are occasions when referrals to specialists are the best option. Today we will discuss the conditions in which you should see a nephrologist. These can vary from patient to patient. In Pakistan, one might struggle in finding the best nephrologist at times.
Doctors that specialize in kidney diseases are known as nephrologists. Kidney problems are becoming more common around the world, with millions of people needing treatment for renal damage or chronic kidney disease each year (CKD). Kidney illness is the 12th most common cause of mortality worldwide and the 9th most common in the United States.
What Does a Nephrologist (Kidney Specialist) Do?
Nephrology, often known as renal medicine, is an internal medicine specialty concerned with kidney care. It’s frequently linked to hypertension or high blood pressure.
Nephrologists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of kidney disorders and diseases. High blood pressure, fluid retention, and electrolyte and mineral imbalances are all treated as well. Furthermore, these experts are in charge of renal dialysis — both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis — as well as kidney transplants and follow-up care. With such critical procedures, it is imperative that you get in touch with the best kidney specialist available out there.
Nephrologists are renal health experts who seek to discover problems with your kidneys and help you stay healthy. The kidneys filter your blood to remove waste and pollutants, as well as monitor and balance the water, acid-base, and mineral ratios in your body.
When you visit a nephrologist for treatment, you are putting yourself in the hands of professionals who can propose the best treatment plan for you. They stay current on medical advances for your renal condition to ensure you receive the most precise and comprehensive care possible.
When Should you Visit a Nephrologist?
Most patients don’t see a nephrologist until their primary care physician refers them. Seeing a nephrologist usually means you have kidney-related symptoms from an unknown origin or you have health problems that only a renal specialist can handle. If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, you may be sent to a nephrologist:
Chronic Urinary Tract Infections
If you have a lot of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are usually bladder infections, the infection is more likely to spread to your kidneys. You’re also more likely to acquire the renal disease, permanent kidney damage, or even kidney failure as a result of this. Chronic UTI symptoms, particularly blood in the urine, fever, and exhaustion, might also signal bladder or kidney cancer in its early stages.
Kidney Transplant and Dialysis
Dialysis is used to treat patients with end-stage renal failure, which is defined as a loss of 85 to 90% of kidney function and a GFR of less than 15. Treatment options include in-office dialysis, home dialysis, and even emergency department treatment. If other therapies fail, a nephrologist will monitor dialysis and determine whether a kidney transplant is necessary.
Recurring Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are mineral or salt-based deposits that form inside your kidneys and cause a lot of discomforts when they move through your urinary tract. If you have a lot of kidney stones, it means your kidneys aren’t filtering waste properly and allowing deposits to build up. Kidney stones can also form, obstructing glomerular filtration (a step in the urine process) and lowering the filtration rate. Any blockages can cause kidney damage and lead to chronic kidney disease.
Protein is present in your urine if it is foamy or bubbling. Proteinuria can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which are quite safe while others are more likely to cause kidney injury. Your urine usually contains a little amount of protein waste, however, this protein will go unnoticed. Only when you have a lot of protein in your system will you notice foam or bubbles in your pee.
This protein spillover can occur in conjunction with other symptoms such as muscle cramps, shortness of breath, and fatigue, and may suggest more moderate stages of chronic renal disease or early kidney failure. To examine your blood and kidney health, your nephrologist will likely do a battery of blood tests, such as BUN, serum creatinine, and protein-creatinine ratio.
Itchy Skin and Joint or Bone Pain
You may have renal bone disease, also known as mineral and bone problems if you’re having bone and joint discomfort as well as itchy skin. This issue occurs when your kidneys can’t keep up with the quantity of calcium and phosphorus your bones require, which can happen when you have kidney disease. This illness, if left untreated, can result in weakening bones, as well as heart and blood vessel disorders.
Treatments Carried Out by a Nephrologist
The majority of early renal problems can be managed with drugs or dietary adjustments (fluids). Nephrologists may need to start dialysis in advanced stages since it is the only option for your body to eliminate toxins and maintain electrolyte balance (the kidneys have failed and can not do that job anymore)
Being Your Own Advocate With Your Kidneys
When it comes to coping with renal disease, if your GFR has continuously deteriorated to late levels, recovery is rare. As a result, the emphasis must be on prevention. Make sure to discuss the results of your GFR with your healthcare practitioner the next time you see them and ask if you should be sent to a specialist.
Bottom Line on When to See a Kidney Specialist
The ideal time to see a kidney specialist depends on your kidney function, your specific renal ailment, and other risk factors. For an increased Cr (stage 4) or a GFR less than 30, it appears that a referral to a nephrologist should be considered, but some people should visit a kidney doctor much sooner. Because seeing a nephrologist on time is linked to a better chance of survival, it’s important to see one of these healthcare specialists sooner rather than later.