Kidney Disease (Nephrology)
Chronic Kidney Care: FAQ
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Q: What is the kidney's bodily function?
A: Your kidneys act as a filter to remove waste, such as salt, chemicals and extra water, from the blood to form urine. Most people have two kidneys, which are shaped like kidney beans. Each one is about the size of a fist. They are located near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage.
- Kidneys also perform the following essential bodily tasks:
- Assist in keeping bones healthy
- Help regulate blood pressure
- Maintain the body's chemical balance
- Regulate important hormones that help the body operate properly
- Stimulate the making of red blood cells
Q: What is chronic kidney disease (CKD)?
A: Chronic kidney disease, or chronic renal failure, is the gradual loss of kidney function over a period of months or years.
Q: What causes kidney disease?
A: While there are a few other, less common causes, the major risk factors for kidney disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Family history of kidney disease
Q: How do I know if I have kidney disease?
A: During the early stages of kidney disease, people usually do not feel sick at all. Other patients experience swelling of the legs, ankles, feet, face and/or hands, as diseased kidneys become unable to remove extra fluid.
However, severe kidney disease can cause pronounced symptoms, which may include:
- Itchiness of the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Metallic taste in the mouth
Q: How is kidney disease diagnosed?
A: Kidney disease is identified by a blood test for creatinine, which measures your kidney function. Higher levels of creatinine indicate a decreased glomerular problem is detected through a urine test for protein and blood. Blood and a large amount of protein in the urine are abnormal and may indicate a kidney problem. Special tests are sometimes needed to determine the cause of the kidney disease.
Q: How is kidney disease treated?
A: Early stages of kidney disease are managed through medication that controls blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Additionally, patients should avoid smoking and schedule regular checkups with their physicians. Complications of kidney disease, such as anemia, acid buildup in the blood and abnormal bone studies, should also be diagnosed and treated. Some rarer kidney diseases require special medications.
Patients with moderate to severe kidney disease may eventually require dialysis treatment or transplantation.
If CKD progresses to kidney failure and the patient's kidneys can no longer function well enough to keep the person alive, some form of dialysis or transplantation will be required.
Q: How can the Montefiore Kidney Care Program help?
A: Montefiore Medical Center's program is exclusively dedicated to helping patients with CKD. We offer the highest quality care to delay and treat complications of kidney disease. We provide education on kidney disease and treatments and maintain open communication with each patient's primary care doctor. Our team has a multidisciplinary approach to kidney treatment. Each patient meets regularly with a nephrologist, dietitian, social worker, licensed nurse and care coordinator. We tailor treatment to each patient's specific needs to ensure he or she receives the best treatment plan.
Q: How can I make an appointment with Montefiore's Chronic Kidney Care Program?
A: You or your referring physician may call 718-920-4662.