Nephrologists are internal medicine doctors with a sub-specialization in nephrology. Nephrologists have expanded knowledge of the kidneys, kidney diseases, tumors affecting the kidneys, and the use of dialysis for people with end stage renal failure.
The job of the kidneys is to filter blood and remove wastes products, such as toxins, drugs, and excesses. Excesses can refer to water, protein, sugar, urea, sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate. Because the kidneys filter the blood, they are closely associated with the circulatory system. But it is an oversimplification to place them in any system as they are intricately tied to the regulation of so many necessary balances within the body. The kidneys can reabsorb water if the body is dehydrated, or excrete it in urine when water is too plentiful. Here, one would be tempted to classify the kidneys as part of the excretory system. Through control of fluid volume in the blood, the body tightly regulates blood pressure. pH is also regulated through kidney function and the maintenance of hydrogen and bicarbonate levels. Electrolyte levels are also controlled by the kidneys. By regulating ions such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, the kidneys move water passively with osmosis/diffusion processes. Though the kidneys may be functioning properly, indicators of how other systems in the body are operating can be evaluated with urine analysis. For example, if the kidneys are releasing large amounts of sugar in the urine, diabetes is a concern as the body is unable to take up glucose from the blood. Too much urea (BUN or blood urea nitrogen) in the urine can indicate liver or metabolic issues. Creatinine levels can be checked in urine or blood analysis. Low creatinine levels in urine and high levels in blood often indicate kidney function impairment. Analysis of ANY element or molecule the kidney filters can be checked in urine to determine kidney health.
A person can live with one functioning kidney, or none -- but dialysis is a must for filtering the blood when the kidneys can no longer do so. Kidney transplants are another option when a persons’ kidneys have failed.
The kidneys are hardly an isolated organ or system within the body. Nephrologists must understand the intricate workings of ALL systems as kidney function intersects them all. Kidney impairment symptoms include:
- Appetite loss
- Sleep difficulties
- Edema (swelling) -- indicating water regulation issues
- Urine inconsistencies (amount, smell, or color off)
- Difficulties urinating
- Mid-back pain
- High blood pressure
Many disease states can lead to kidney failure as filtering too much of a substance from the blood can damage the intricate nephrons of the kidneys. Cholesterol, sugar, proteins are all large molecules that in normal quantities the kidneys can handle. Over time, however, excesses can clog or wear out the tubules and tiny vasculature of the renal organs.
If you believe you or a loved one suffered a worsening of kidney disease or a death due to a nephrologist’s failure to diagnose or treat, you may have a nephrologist medical malpractice case. Call the experts at the Sweeney Law Firm and let us review the facts. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no cost to you unless a settlement or recovery of funds is made.