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Kidneys play a crucial role in our body, quietly and efficiently managing waste and fluid balance. Nephrology is a branch of medicine that focuses on kidney health. The physicians who specialize in nephrology are called nephrologists. 

Want to learn more about your kidney health? This guide explains everything you need to know about nephrology, common kidney diseases and how Summit Health nephrologists diagnose and treat kidney issues.

What is Nephrology?

Nephrology is the medical specialty focused on the kidneys' functions, problems, treatments and preventive measures.

Summit Health nephrologists are experts in kidney health, including how to prevent and treat conditions affecting these vital organs. The field encompasses everything from acute kidney failure and chronic kidney disease to electrolyte disturbances and hypertension management.

Understanding the signs of kidney health issues and when to seek specialist advice is crucial for early intervention and treatment.

Common Kidney Diseases: Identification and Causes

Kidney diseases often present silently and can significantly impact overall health if left unaddressed. Key conditions include:

  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): A gradual loss of kidney function over time, often caused by high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Acute Kidney Injury (AKI): A sudden episode of kidney failure or kidney damage that happens within a few hours or days.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): A genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys.
  • Glomerulonephritis: A type of kidney disease where the glomeruli, the filtering units of the kidney, become inflamed.
  • Kidney Stones: Hard deposits of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Infections in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, which can lead to more serious kidney infections.

Identifying the causes and recognizing the symptoms of conditions like kidney stones and UTIs early can be life-saving, enabling timely and effective treatment.

How Summit Health Nephrologists Uncover Kidney Issues

Nephrologists use a variety of diagnostic tools and tests to uncover kidney issues, including:

  • Blood Tests: To measure substances such as creatinine and urea, which can indicate how well the kidneys are functioning.
  • Urine Tests: To detect abnormalities that suggest kidney disease, such as the presence of protein or blood.
  • Imaging Tests: Such as ultrasounds or CT scans, to get a visual picture of the kidneys and urinary tract.
  • Kidney Biopsy: In some cases, a small sample of kidney tissue may be removed and examined under a microscope to determine the type of kidney disease.

With a comprehensive evaluation, nephrologists can develop a treatment plan tailored to the individual's condition, whether it involves medication management, lifestyle changes or in more severe cases, dialysis or transplantation.

Nephrology at Summit Health

Understanding nephrology and the critical role kidneys play in our overall health is crucial for early detection and management of kidney diseases.

Summit Health is committed to providing comprehensive nephrology services, offering advanced care for those facing kidney health challenges. Our team of expert nephrologists is equipped with the knowledge and technology to diagnose and treat a wide range of kidney-related conditions. We encourage anyone with concerns about their kidney health or those seeking to manage an existing condition to reach out.

Take the first step towards safeguarding your kidney health by making an appointment with a Summit Health nephrologist today. Your kidneys play a vital role in your body, and at Summit Health, we're here to ensure they get the care they deserve.