Frequently asked questions

These are answers to some of the most common questions we hear

Why am I seeing the kidney doctor?

Often people are referred to the kidney doctor without knowing exactly why. This occurs fairly frequently so I like to take the first few minutes of the visit to explain this to you. Typically you "feel fine" and are not complaining of any symptoms. The beginnings of kidney disease are often subtle and show up on your routine blood work or urine testing. The most common reason for referral is an elevation of your creatinine, which is measured on routine blood work. Creatinine is a waste product that comes from our muscles during normal daily activities. The only way for this toxin to be removed from our blood is through the kidneys. If the kidneys are having trouble for any reason purifying the blood the creatinine level will be elevated. The higher the creatinine level the worse the kidney function. An elevated creatinine level may reflect a kidney prolem that needs to be evaluated. Another reason is if you have protein or blood in your urine that was picked up on testing. Protein in the urine could suggest 'leaky kidney filters' or other problems in the drainage of the kidneys (ureters, bladder, urethra) that needs evaluation. There are many other reasons that patients are referred to a kidney specialist including high blood pressure, kidney stones, cysts in the kidneys or abnormal body chemistries (like a high or low potassium level or sodium level). I'll be sure to review with you initially what your reason for the visit is.

What do the kidneys do?

The kidneys clean and filter the blood to remove excess toxins and water. They regulate our blood pressure and also help to keep our bones healthy and blood counts normal.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

Some non-specific symptoms of renal disease include: - Fatigue - Weakness - Difficulty concentrating - Trouble sleeping - Dry, itchy skin - Frequent urge to urinate - Blood in the urine - Urine is foamy - Puffiness around the eyes - Loss of appetite - Swelling in the ankles and feet - Muscle cramps

Can I have chronic kidney disease if I feel fine?

Yes. You can lose as much as 90% of your kidney function and continue to feel fine or have only minor symptoms. It's very important to start managing risk factors for kidney disease as early as possible to avoid progression.

What are the treatments for end-stage kidney failure?

The treatment options for end-stage kidney failure are kidney transplantation, dialysis or no treatment for some patients. End stage renal disease is a terminal condition if it's not treated by dialysis or transplantation.

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