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Nephrology: Symptoms, Disease, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Nephrology: Symptoms, Disease, Diagnosis & Treatment

Renal Sciences | by Dr. Sandipan Halder | Published on 27/03/2023



What is Nephrology?

Nephrology is the study of the kidneys and their functions and the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. The kidneys are vital organs responsible for filtering waste products from the blood, regulating fluid balance, and producing hormones that regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production. In this blog, we will discuss the symptoms, diseases, diagnosis, and nephrology treatment. If you or anyone around you is experiencing kidney disorder symptoms, you must consult a doctor for an early diagnosis and prevent the condition from getting worse.

 

What Are Some Common Symptoms Of Nephrology?

The symptoms of kidney disease may vary depending on the underlying condition. However, some of the most common symptoms include the following -

  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles
  • Back pain, especially in the area around the kidneys
  • Blood in the urine
  • Reduced sense of taste and appetite
  • Less energy and trouble concentrating
  • Unexplained confusion, memory problems, or trouble focusing
  • Pain, fluid in the joints, or stiffness
  • Muscle cramps, numbness, or weakness
  • Exhaustion during the day
  • Problems sleeping at night
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Changes in urination frequency or color
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching and dry skin
  • Shortness of breath

 

What Are Some Common Diseases In Nephrology?

Since nephrology focuses on kidney functioning, there are several conditions that fall under the category of nephrology such as 

  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD): This is a progressive condition that occurs when the kidneys are damaged and can no longer filter waste products effectively.
  • Acute kidney injury (AKI): This is a sudden onset of kidney failure that can occur due to various reasons like trauma, infection, dehydration, or medication.
  • Glomerulonephritis: This is an inflammation of the kidney's filtering units (glomeruli) and can be acute or chronic.
  • Polycystic kidney disease: This is a genetic disorder that causes the growth of cysts in the kidneys, leading to kidney damage and failure.
  • Nephrotic syndrome: This is a condition where the kidneys lose protein, leading to swelling and other complications. 

Additionally, there are several other kidney diseases that are diagnosed and treated by a nephrologist such as -

  • Abnormalities associated with urine like excess excretion of protein, sugar, blood, casts, and crystals.
  • Acid-base fluctuations.
  • Cancers associated with kidneys, bladder, and urethra
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney damage due to toxins and drugs
  • Autoimmune diseases including lupus and autoimmune vasculitis
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Anaemia related to kidney disease.
  • Bone disease related to kidney disease

 

How Are Nephrology Disorders Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of kidney disease involves various tests and procedures to assess the kidneys' function and identify the underlying cause of the disease. After analyzing the symptoms and checking the medical history report, the doctor may recommend a series of diagnostic tests to pinpoint the area of disease -

  • Imaging tests - These tests, such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI, can help identify abnormalities or damage to the kidneys.
  • Urine tests - These tests can assess the levels of protein, blood, and other substances in the urine, which can indicate kidney damage or disease.
  • Blood tests - These tests can assess the levels of waste products like creatinine and urea in the blood, which can indicate how well the kidneys are functioning.
  • Kidney biopsy - In some cases, a small sample of kidney tissue may be removed for further examination under a microscope.

How Are Nephrology Disorders Treated?

There are several treatment methods that can either treat the condition or help you manage the symptoms which can allow you to carry out your daily tasks. The treatment for kidney disease depends on the underlying condition and the stage of the disease. Some of the common treatments include - 

  • Medications
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT)
  • Peritoneal Dialysis (CPD)
  • Plasma Dialysis (Plasmapheresis)
  • Liver Dialysis (MARS Therapy)
  • Kidney Transplant
  • Combined Kidney & Liver Transplant and Kidney Biopsy

Conclusion:

Nephrology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases. The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from the blood and removing them from the body through urine. There are several symptoms that can indicate improper functioning of the kidneys. When the kidneys do not function properly, waste products accumulate in the blood, resulting in severe health problems. Therefore, getting a comprehensive diagnosis can lead to effective treatment and a better quality of life.