FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a Renal Physician?
A Renal Physician or Nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in the care of patients with kidney disease and problems related to kidneys such as high blood pressure. With early evaluation and follow up, a renal physician can help to preserve your kidney function.
What do my kidneys do?
Kidneys filter and rid the blood of waste products. They regulate the balance of fluid and electrolytes in the body. They produce hormones which regulate blood pressure, the production of red blood cells, and bone health.
What is CKD?
CKD stands for Chronic Kidney Disease. It is a condition in which there has been kidney damage or below normal kidney function for at least three months. There are stages of CKD defined by the GFR or (glomerular filtration rate).
Stage 1 GFR > 90
Stage 2 GFR 60-89
Stage 3 GFR 30-59
Stage 4 GFR 15-29
Stage 5 GFR <15
What is the GFR?
GFR or Glomerular Filtration Rate is a way of measuring kidney function. It is calculated from your serum creatinine, age, and gender. It is also measured during 24 hour urine collections.
What tests can detect CKD?
Simple tests which can detect CKD include blood pressure analysis, urine albumin, and serum creatinine level. Your nephrologist can tailor more detailed testing for you based on the nature of your condition.
What causes CKD?
Diabetes and hypertension or high blood pressure are the leading causes of CKD in the US. Some other disorders which can cause CKD include glomerulonephritis, polycystic kidney disease, lupus, obstruction, and congenital abnormalities.
How is anemia related to my kidneys?
The kidneys produce a hormone called EPO (erythropoietin). This hormone is responsible for increased production of new red blood cells. When CKD is present, not enough of this hormone is produced and red blood cell levels fall. This can result in symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath. Anemia of CKD can be treated with injectable medications and iron in the form of tablets and intravenous injections.
Can changes in my diet affect my kidney function?
Diet is an important part of CKD care. Some dietary restrictions can slow the progression of CKD. A renal dietician can help with meal planning and food choices. Should I avoid certain medicines? Patients with CKD should avoid NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications) as well as IV dyes, certain enemas, laxatives, and herbal products. Patients with CKD should consult their renal physician before starting any new over the counter medicines.
What If my kidneys fail?
Patients with kidney failure have options including dialysis and transplantation. Dialysis is a process of clearing toxins and fluids from the body that the kidneys would normally clear. Transplantation is a surgical procedure which places a healthy kidney from another person into your body. The transplanted kidney then functions to clear toxins and remove fluids. In some patients neither option is reasonable. Patients have the right to refuse or withdraw from treatment