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Frequently Asked Questions

It is important to understand some of the questions you have before making an appointment.

What exactly does a nephrologist do?

A nephrologist is a medical specialist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of kidney diseases. They are experts in assessing and managing kidney function, disorders, and related conditions.

What is CKD?

CKD Stands for Chronic Kidney Disease. It is a progressive and long-term condition where the kidneys gradually lose their ability to function properly over time. It is typically characterized by a decrease in kidney function and the presence of kidney damage.

What are the five Stages of Chronic Kidney Disease?

CKD is classified into five stages based on the estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR), which measures the kidney’s filtering capacity:

-Stage 1: Kidney damage with normal or increased eGFR (>90ml/min).

-Stage 2: Mild decrease in eGFR (60-89 ml/min)

-Stage 3: Moderate decrease in eGFR (30-59 ml/min). Further divided into Stage 3A (45-59 ml/min) and Stage 3b (30-44 ml/min).

Stage 4: Severe decrease in eGFR (15-29 ml/min).

Stage 5: End-Stage renal disease (ESRD) with eGFR <15 ml/min or the need for renal replacement therapy (dialysis or transplant).

Why are the kidneys important?

The kidneys are vital organs that perform several crucial functions in the body:

  • Filtration of waste products and toxins from the blood.
  • Regulation of fluid and electrolyte balance.
  • Maintenance of acid-base balance.
  • Production of hormones that regulate blood pressure, red blood cell production, and calcium metabolism.

What can I do to keep my kidneys healthy?

To protect your kidneys, you can:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by engaging in regular physical activity and consuming a balanced diet.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water.
  • Manage underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
  • Avoid excessive use of medications that may harm the kidneys.
  • Limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking.

What tests are performed to evaluate and track my kidney function?

Several tests can assess and monitor kidney function, including:

  • Blood Tests: Measurement of creatine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
  • Urine Tests: Evaluation of urine for protein, albumin, or other abnormalities.
  • Imaging Tests: Ultrasound, CT Scan, or MRI to assess kidney structures and identify any abnormalities.
  • Kidney Biopsy: A procedure where a small sample of kidney tissue is taken for examination to determine the cause and severity of kidney disease.

What is the relationship between my diabetes management and my kidney function?

Diabetes control is crucial for kidney function because high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to diabetic nephropathy. Maintaining good glycemic control through proper diabetes management can help slow the progression of kidney disease.

What is the relationship between my blood pressure control and kidney health?

Blood pressure control is closely related to kidney function. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney damage and the progression of CKD. Controlling blood pressure through lifestyle modifications and medications is important to preserve kidney function.

Why do I have to take so many blood pressure medications?

Multiple blood pressure medications may be necessary to achieve better blood pressure control. Different medications work in different ways to lower blood pressure. Combining multiple medications allows for more effective blood pressure management and reduces the strain on the kidneys.

How does my diet affect my kidney function?

Diet can affect kidney function, especially in individuals with CKD. Depending on the stage of CKD, dietary modifications may be recommended, such as reducing sodium intake, limiting protein, controlling phosphorus and potassium levels, and managing fluid intake. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to create a personalized diet plan.

Are there any drugs I should stay away from if I have CKD?

Certain medications should be avoided or used with caution with CKD, as they can further harm the kidneys or cause drug toxicity. Non-sterodial anti-inflamtory drugs. Avoid NSAIDS like: Motrin, Aleve, Celebrex, and Ibuprophen, as well as enemas, laxatives, food supplements, herbal medications and vitamins. Before starting any new medications, consult a nephrologist.

What causes my anemia?

Anemia is caused by a decrease in red blood cell count, which can result in fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, poor appetite, and heart disease. The kidneys produce erythropoietin, which aids in the formation of red blood cells. Anemia caused by CKD is treated with erythropoietin injections and iron pills.

What medical options do I have if my kidneys fail?

Treatment options for kidney failure include hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and kidney transplantation. Kidney transplantation involves a healthy kidney transplant, which can improve quality of life. Patients have the right to refuse or withdraw treatment if they believe there is no hope for improvement or dignity.

What is the definition of dialysis?

Dialysis is a process that cleans and filters blood. There are two types: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Hemodialysis filters waste and water through a dialyzer, whereas peritoneal dialysis filters waste and water through the peritoneum lining. The solution is then drained through a soft tube.

What is the definition of vascular access?

Hemodialysis requires creating a vascular access, typically in the arm, using fistulas or grafts. External catheters are inserted into veins, and the temporary catheter is replaced with a permanent catheter.

How to take care of your kidneys.

Monitor blood pressure and manage medications, Avoid NSAIDs, eat well, quit smoking, and consult a doctor.

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