Angie's LIST Guide to
What a kidney doctor does
Nephrology is the field of internal medicine that deals with the study and function of the kidneys, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. On an average day, your kidneys process 200 quarts of blood, which sift out up to two quarts of waste and extra water. This extra waste and water becomes urine that you excrete from your body during urination.
Removing waste products is crucial part of maintaining a healthy body. Waste comes from the breakdown of food and tissues such as muscles. Once the body takes what it needs from food, the rest becomes waste that the body needs to eliminate. If the kidneys can't complete this process, waste builds up in the body and causes damage.
Kidney damage or kidney failure may prevent proper filtering of wastes. In these cases, you'll need to undergo dialysis, which artificially replaces this lost kidney function.
The kidneys play a very important role in your bodily functions, so nephrology, in turn, is a very important branch of medicine. Nephrologists study these organs and can diagnose and treat you when a problem arises. Getting kidney care can help you avoid future problems down the road, problems that are more serious and life threatening. Always seek out your doctor if you suspect something isn't right.
Why see a nephrologist
If you face medical problems, you may wonder whether you should see a nephrologist or your family physician. Chances are that when you don't feel your best, you will seek out your general practitioner first. But if your doctor suspects a kidney problem, he or she may refer you to a nephrologist to diagnose and treat your illness. This type of doctor specializes only in kidneys and can administer the proper tests and treatments to get you healthy again as quickly as possible.
Whether visiting your doctor for a routine appointment or for a problem, be sure to mention any and all symptoms. A nephrologist should address many problems immediately, such as blood in the urine, high blood pressure, kidney stones, electrolyte disorders and fluid retention. Any one of these symptoms could indicate a larger issue that needs to be treated. If your doctor finds you have a problem, he or she will map out a course of treatment and go over all of your options with you. The treatment may be simple, such as a change in diet or more exercise, or it could involve medications or surgery. Whatever the problem, your nephrologist will be there for every treatment to monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed.
Finding the best nephrologist
When looking for a nephrologist, do your research. Finding reviews of their practice and reading what patients have to say about their care, bedside manner and reliability is important. When it comes to your health, you want someone you can trust, so finding the right doctor for your specific needs is key. Comparing statements can help you narrow down your options and feel confident in your choice. Check Angie's List to verify their qualifications, education, continuing education, accepted insurance plans and affiliated hospitals in addition to reading member reviews and rankings.
The second important step is finding a doctor who accepts your insurance plan. You don't want to see a doctor only to be surprised with a large bill after the treatment. Call around to local doctors and ask them if they take your insurance provider. If you don't have insurance, contact doctors and see if they are willing to work with you on the costs of appointments, medications and treatment.
Another important part of finding a nephrologist is becoming aware of what kind of treatment you are looking for. There are many different kinds of treatment for kidney issues, and you should have a basic idea of what they are when searching for the right doctor. You may go with traditional medication, which is common, or you may want to try more natural methods, such as changing your diet or using supplements and vitamins. Finding a physician who supports your plan will help you be confident during your treatment. It will also help the two of you develop a positive relationship with one another.