What Is Nephrology?
Nephrology is the field of medicine that deals with acute and chronic kidney problems. A nephrologist is the doctor who manages your disease if you go into kidney failure. At the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens, NY, an internist specializing in nephrology prefers to keep you healthy with preventative advice and treatments.
Typically, kidney disease is preventable by managing your underlying disorders and incorporating healthy habits that keep your kidneys operating at their optimum levels. Conditions that can lead up to eventual kidney problems include:
How Can I Prevent Kidney Disease?
The diet and exercise plans that help you avoid other issues — like obesity, heart disease, GERD and diabetes — are the same healthy lifestyle choices that keep your kidneys operating effectively. To improve your odds for a long, healthy life for you and your kidneys, your nephrologist recommends:
- Maintaining a healthy weight, reflected by a target body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9
- Stopping smoking because smoking slows the blood flow to the organs, including your kidneys
- Being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day
- Taking supplements to maintain proper mineral levels
- Saying no to chronic binge drinking, which causes kidney disease
- Reducing alcohol consumption to occasional use — no more than one drink per day — because alcohol significantly affects your kidney’s ability to filter your blood
- Staying hydrated, as your kidneys need water to flush your bloodstream
- Not allowing yourself to become severely dehydrated, as it can lead to kidney failure
- Lowering your stress levels
- Getting sufficient sleep
In terms of your diet, cut down on your salt intake so that you consume no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, which equals about 1.5 teaspoons. You can also help your kidneys by choosing foods that are low in sugar. Finally, avoid unhealthy fats like saturated fat in meat and the trans fats used to make processed food.
How Can I Tell if I Need Nephrology Treatment?
When you maintain regular yearly checkups with your internist or family doctor at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center, your doctor gets to know you and your risk for the kinds of conditions that can lead to kidney disease. Early intervention is the best way to avoid a nephrology referral. Symptoms that you may be heading for problems with your kidneys include when you’re:
- Having trouble sleeping because your body contains too many toxins. Sometimes, sleep apnea is an early indicator of kidney problems.
- Feeling more tired and weak than usual and having difficulty concentrating. Anemia often is a complication that occurs when you’ve developed kidney disease.
- Needing to urinate often, especially during the night.
- Seeing blood in your urine, which indicates that you may have damaged kidney filters. Blood in the urine can also signal kidney stones, a kidney infection or tumors.
- Noticing that your urine is foamy, a sign that there’s too much protein in your urine.
- Developing itchy dry skin that may be an early precursor to mineral or bone disease. It often signals an advanced stage of kidney disease, too.
- Getting puffiness around your eyes on a regular basis, which is a sign that your kidneys may be leaking protein into your bloodstream.
- Cramping in your muscles due to low electrolyte levels.
- Swelling in your feet and ankles because of salt and water retention.
- Experiencing a suppressed appetite.
Many of these symptoms may be due to other causes, but can eventually impact your kidneys if not addressed. To verify if your kidneys ae damaged, your nephrologist performs tests to confirm a diagnosis, such as:
- Urine analysis that checks for albumin, which is a protein that shows up in your urine if you have kidney disease
- Blood tests to determine how well your kidneys are filtering your blood
- Ultrasound imaging tests that allow your doctor to assess the shape and size of your kidneys
- A biopsy under local anesthesia, which involves taking a small sample of your kidney’s tissue so it can be analyzed in a lab to determine the cause of your kidney disease
What Treatments Does Nephrology Medicine Offer?
Your very first step at the Medex Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Queens is to tackle early signs of kidney disease with lifestyle changes to control or slow down its progression. You may need to take medications to manage the underlying cause of your kidney damage. You may also need high blood pressure medication or supplements to tackle anemia, even after you’ve started eating better and hydrating.
There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, which is why your nephrologist wants to stop it in its tracks as soon as possible. While research in regenerative medical treatment for kidney disease shows promise for slowing down the disease’s progression, once your kidneys begin to fail, nephrology offers two primary treatments to prolong your life:
- Dialysis, which is a mechanical function used to filter your blood
- Transplant, which means undergoing a major surgery to replace your kidney with one from a donor
Don’t wait until you experience symptoms that might require these nephrology treatments. Contact Medex today to set up an appointment. Set a course that leads to a long, healthy life for you and your kidneys.