More than 26 million people have kidney disease, which is the gradual loss of kidney function. But because it often has no symptoms, kidney disease can go unnoticed until it advances toward the serious status of kidney failure. As such, early detection and treatment are the keys to keeping kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure.
The critical role of the kidneys
The kidneys are the workhorses of the body. They function 24 hours a day, seven days per week to eliminate waste and toxins from the body. The kidneys also balance fluids in the body and control the production of red blood cells.
Are you at risk for kidney disease?
Certain conditions and diseases, along with factors like family history and ethnicity, can increase your risk for developing kidney disease. They include:
- Family history of kidney disease
- African American, Hispanic American, Asian, Pacific Islander or American Indian ethnicity
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Enlarged prostate, kidney stones and certain cancers
- Vesicoureteral reflux (condition that causes urine to back up into your kidneys)
- Recurrent kidney infection (pyelonephritis)
Diagnosing kidney disease
The first step in diagnosing kidney disease is a discussion about your personal and family history, your current medications and if you’ve noticed changes in your urinary habits. Tests to detect early kidney disease include:
- Urine test to gauge protein levels. Excess amounts of protein in the urine may indicate the filtering units of the kidneys have been damaged by disease. A positive result could be due to fever or heavy exercise, so your doctor will want to re-examine your results over several weeks.
- Blood test for blood creatinine. Your test results should be factored in with your age, race, gender and other health issues to calculate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Your GFR indicates how well your kidneys function.
- Imaging tests, such as ultrasound accurately assess the size and structure of the kidneys.
- Kidney biopsy to remove a sample of kidney tissue. The biopsy procedure can usually be performed in-office and under local anesthesia. The doctor inserts a long, thin needle through the skin and into the kidney to collect a tiny tissue sample. The biopsy sample is sent to a lab for testing to help determine what’s causing your kidney problem.
Expert care for kidney disease is here for you
At South Texas Renal Care Group, we are wholly dedicated to the people of the San Antonio area and throughout South Texas.
Whether you feel you are at risk for kidney disease, have just been diagnosed, or are seeking advanced treatments for kidney disease, we are ready to help. Our board certified physicians in internal medicine and nephrology are experienced, caring and committed to helping you manage your condition. They also participate in government-approved clinical research trials, which helps our entire team keep up with the latest innovations in kidney care.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 210-212-8622 or click here to use our online form.