5 Things You Should Ask Your Nephrologist

What is a Nephrologist?

A Nephrologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the care and treatment of kidney diseases. They diagnose, treat, and manage conditions related to the kidneys such as chronic kidney disease (CKD), end stage renal disease (ESRD), acute kidney injury, glomerulonephritis, electrolyte disturbances, inherited kidney disorders such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and cystinosis, and hypertension caused by kidney problems. Nephrologists also help patients transition from acute to long-term care for chronic kidney diseases or provide guidance on living with ESRD. Knowing when to see a nephrologist can help you get early detection and timely treatment which can improve outcomes for your condition.

When do I need to see a Nephrologist?

If you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to see a nephrologist: swelling in your hands and feet; changes in urine color, smell or frequency; fatigue, anemia and muscle cramps; high blood pressure without explanation; pain in your back or side near your kidneys. Other reasons to seek out a nephrologist include if you have a family history of kidney disease, diabetes or hypertension. It is also recommended to be seen by a nephrologist before starting dialysis or considering renal transplantation.

What questions should I ask my Nephrologist?

Before visiting a nephrologist, it is important to prepare a list of questions to help guide your conversation. Here are five essential questions to ask:

  1. What tests do I need and why?
  2. How can I best manage my condition?
  3. Are there any lifestyle changes I should make?
  4. What treatments are available for my condition?
  5. Do you recommend dialysis or transplantation as an option if needed in the future?

Where can I find a Nephrologist?

Your primary care physician or local hospital can provide you with referrals to nearby nephrologists. Additionally, you can search online for kidney specialists in your area and read patient reviews to help make the best decision on who to see. For more information on finding a nephrologist, you can visit the American Society of Nephrology website or contact your local National Kidney Foundation office. 

What should I look for in a Nephrologist?

When looking for a nephrologist, search for one who is board certified and has experience with your condition. Ask how many years of experience they have, what their specialty is and which treatments they provide. You should also consider their credentials, patient reviews, accessibility at the hospital or clinic and if they accept your insurance plan.

Asking the right questions can help you get the best care possible from your nephrologist. It is important to find one you trust and feel comfortable with so that you can receive the best treatment and care for your kidney condition.

Remember to be an active participant in your health care by keeping up to date with all of your doctor’s appointments, following through on any referrals, taking medications as prescribed, and following any other lifestyle changes suggested by your doctor. You should also keep a journal recording symptoms or changes in lab results to share with your renal specialist at each appointment. This will help them make the most accurate diagnosis and provide the most effective treatment plan. Good luck!