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What is a Nephrologist?

A Nephrologist is a Medical Doctor who Specializes in Kidney care and treating diseases of the kidneys. The term nephrologist comes from the Greek word “nephros”, which means kidney or renal and “ologist” refers to someone who studies. Nephrologists are also called kidney doctors. Nephrologists are educated in internal medicine and then undergo more training to specialize in treating patients with kidney diseases. They commonly treat chronic kidney disease (CKD), polycystic kidney disease (PKD), acute renal failure, kidney stones and high blood pressure and are educated on all aspects of kidney transplantation and dialysis.

Nephrologists generally meet with dialysis patients several times per month and other types of kidney patients every one to three months. When a patient comes in for a check-up, the kidney doctor will evaluate the patient’s medical condition, address any new problems, check test results, make changes to the patient’s dialysis prescription if needed and refill or prescribe medications. During these visits, the nephrologist is also likely to adjust blood pressure medicines and may initiate or adjust therapy for a variety of other problems, such as diabetes, anemia and high cholesterol.

Every nephrologist has received extensive training in general internal medicine, and many nephrologists will treat their patients for other things besides kidney problems. It’s important that patients tell their kidney doctors if they notice any changes in their health.

Who should see a Nephrologist?.

A person may be referred to a Kidney Doctor if he or she is experiencing:

  • Acute renal failure
  • Stage 4 or 5 chronic kidney disease
  • Accelerated decline in kidney function
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Repeat urinary tract infections
  • High blood pressure that does not respond to medication
  • A glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of 30 or lower
  • Repeat kidney stones
  • Blood loss in the urine
  • Protein loss in the urine

Summary

Nephrologists, also referred to as kidney doctors, specialize in kidney care and commonly treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) and manage dialysis care for people with end stage renal disease. People with kidney problems may be referred to a nephrologist by their primary care physician or they may choose to go to a kidney doctor if they believe they have issues with their kidneys.