Did you know that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the leading causes of death in the United States? Most people take their kidney health for granted, yet CKD affects approximately 37 million adults according to the National Kidney Foundation, and as many as 90 percent of adults might not even be aware that they have the disease.
If you are experiencing certain symptoms – such as muscle cramps, weakness and fatigue, swelling of the extremities, urinating more or less than normal, foamy, frothy, or bubbly-looking urine, nausea or vomiting, itchy skin, breathlessness, or trouble falling or staying asleep – you should see a doctor promptly.
In the meantime, here are things you ought to know about nephrology, the specialized branch of medicine focused on the kidneys.
Understanding and Dealing with CKD
The kidneys are small organs just below the rib cage on each side. They perform many vital functions, including the filtration of blood before it returns to the heart and the maintenance of appropriate fluid levels in the body.
CKD encompasses acute and chronic kidney issues, including polycystic kidney disease, recurrent kidney infections (UTIs), interstitial nephritis, andglomerulonephritis. Conditions that cause CKD include type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and prolonged obstruction of the urinary tract from either an enlarged prostate, kidney stones, or some forms of cancer. If you are diagnosed with CKD, your doctor might refer you to a nephrologist, who is specially trained to treat and manage kidney diseases and systemic diseases that impact the kidneys – for example, heart failure.
At your first visit with a nephrologist, they will perform a complete physical examination and ask questions about your medical history. If warranted, the physician will order certain tests to better understand the cause of your symptoms. Once the root cause of your symptoms is confirmed, the nephrologist will offer treatment options. For mild to moderate cases, these may include preventative measures or moderating electrolyte imbalances. In more severe cases of CKD, such as kidney failure, dialysis may be required or, in the case of end-state diseases, a kidney transplant.
If you are wondering what the difference is between a nephrologist and urologist, both are physicians who treat diseases related to the kidney and urinary systems. However, unlike a urologist who primarily deals with certain diseases and conditions related to the urinary tract, a nephrologist diagnoses and manages conditions directly impacting the kidneys. For example, while a urologist addresses issues such as incontinence and UTIs, a nephrologist also focuses on CKD.
Top-Quality Nephrologist in Syracuse, New York
The board-certified nephrologists at the Department of Medicine at SUNY: Upstate Medical University are highly skilled and experienced experts in disorders and diseases affecting the kidneys. They provide outstanding care to adult patients with chronic renal failure with top-of-the-line, comprehensive dialysis programs.
In addition to offering a transplant clinic, a renal clinic, a dialysis clinic, and kidney stone clinic, we provide medical direction to a regional kidney transplant program and complete support of patients with end-stage renal disease, including intermittent hemodialysis, CAPD (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis), CCPD (continuous cyclic peritoneal dialysis), and CRRT (continuous renal replacement therapy).
We also care for patients referred by their physician with complex kidney stone problems and serve patients from more than two dozen counties in upstate New York.