Nephrology is the branch of medical science concerned with the structure and function of the kidneys. Good Samaritan has nephrologists on staff who treat patients in the inpatient Dialysis Unit and at the two off-site centers. They are also on call for emergency situations.
What function do the kidneys perform in our body?The kidneys perform the vital functions of removing toxins and waste materials from our blood, balancing the body’s water content and maintaining chemical balance in the body.
What is kidney disease? Are there different types of kidney disease?Kidney disease is any condition that affects or diminishes the ability of the kidneys to filter waste from the body. There are various conditions that affect the kidneys in different ways, but the end result of diminished function is the same.
Why does a person get kidney disease?The leading cause of kidney disease is diabetes. Diabetes affects the blood vessels in the body, including those in the kidneys. When these vessels are damaged, the kidneys’ ability to function is impaired. High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney disease, often linked with diabetes, which damages the small blood vessels. The third leading cause of kidney disease is glomerulonephritis, a disease that damages the filtering units of the kidneys. Other causes of kidney disease are genetic conditions such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD), infections, kidney stones and even the long-term overuse of over-the-counter painkillers and street drugs such as heroin.
What are some of the symptoms of kidney disease?Many times kidney disease can progress for years without any outward signs at all. Later, edema, or fluid retention, can indicate decreased function in the kidneys. Anemia and a general “sick feeling” without any other apparent cause can also indicate decreased kidney function. Other symptoms could include feeling cold all the time, increased thirst, decrease or increase in frequency of urination, headache, confusion, drowsiness, diarrhea, trouble concentrating, decreased interest in sex or puffiness around the eyes.
Once a person has kidney disease, is it curable? Is damage reversible?In some instances, when kidney disease is diagnosed, it can be cured. In other cases, steps can be taken to halt the damage or slow any further deterioration of the kidneys. For the most part, however, sustained kidney damage is not reversible.
What steps can a person take to prevent the onset of kidney disease?Controlling conditions that are risk factors is the best prevention. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle. High blood pressure should be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes. Avoid the overuse of painkillers like aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, especially in combination with one another and other substances such as caffeine. It is always a good idea to drink lots of water unless your doctor indicates otherwise.
For further information, call the Physician and Health Referral Line at (631) 376- 4444.