Patient Care & Information
Find answers to many common questions about the kidney and kidney disease.
The Kidney Disease Program is a leader in educating medical students, nurses, new physicians and patients about renal disease.
We provide all renal replacement therapies including hemodialysis (both In-Center and Home hemodialysis), peritoneal dialysis, and renal transplantation.
Our goal is to prevent and treat renal disease, and to improve the quality of life for those living with these conditions.
Here are some answers to common questions about the kidneys and kidney disease.
► What do kidneys do?
Kidneys have many jobs including clearing your body of toxins and extra fluid, regulating your levels of sodium, potassium, and acid, and also producing certain hormones.
Erythropoietin is a hormone that makes red blood cells, activated vitamin D leads to bone growth as well as other roles. Kidneys also make renin which is involved in high blood pressure.
► How do you know if you have kidney disease?
Sometimes you may not feel any different and the only way to know is because your doctor checked your kidney function. Other times you may be tired, sick to your stomach especially in the morning, itchy.
► Who should get screened for kidney disease?
Anyone who notices any or all of the following symptoms:
- If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar (diabetes), heart disease or peripheral artery disease you should be screened.
- If you have a family history of kidney disease.
- If you notice blood in your urine or foamy urine.
► How is kidney disease defined?
Kidney disease may mean that you have abnormal kidneys by ultrasound. It may mean that you have an abnormal urine analysis or it may mean you have a blood test that is abnormal.
The blood test that is usually measured is blood urea nitrogen and creatinine.
There are several ways to measure who well the kidneys clear the body of toxins. One measurement is glomerular filtration (GFR) or creatinine clearance (CrCl).
If you know the results of your serum creatinine you can estimate your kidney function. (www.mdcalc.com/mdrd-gfr-equation). Estimating your GFR can give you an idea of what changes you can expect.
► What are the treatments for kidney failure?
- Kidney transplantation
Kidney transplant is not an option for everyone. You need to be able to undergo a major operation. The most important item to the success of a kidney transplant is taking the anti-rejection medications and making your doctor appointments.
Hemodialysis is a treatment that allows blood to go from your body through a filter and back to you. Your blood is cleared as it goes through the filter.
Home dialysis allows you to have the treatment at home. You usually do dialysis six times per week.
In-center hemodialysis is a treatment where you go to a dialysis center and get dialysis three times a week.
- Peritoneal dialysis
Peritoneal dialysis allows you to do treatments at home. You place a solution into plastic tubing that is placed between your abdominal organs and the muscles of the stomach – the peritoneal space.
You can either do peritoneal dialysis throughout the day or throughout the night with a machine.
► How does high blood pressure (hypertension) affect kidneys?
High blood pressure can lead to scarring in the kidney. If you are African-American you may be at more risk kidney disease from high blood pressure.
Lowering blood pressure especially with the use of drugs that block angiotensin 2 and aldosterone are beneficial in slowing the progression of kidney disease.
► How does high blood sugar (diabetes) affect kidneys?
High blood sugar affects blood vessels. Your blood vessels can get leaky allowing protein to spill into your urine.
Men, African-Americans, Native Americans, and Asians are at high risk to go on to develop kidney disease.
► How does lupus affect kidneys?
Lupus is a disease where your body forms antibodies against itself. Lupus can cause different kinds of kidney disease some of which will go on to end stage kidney disease.
You may need to be treated with immunosuppressive medications to treat the lupus.
► What is polycystic kidney disease?
Autosomal dominant polyscystic kidney disease is a common disease occurring in 1 in 400-1000 live births. Diagnosis is often made by family history and radiologic imaging of kidneys.
Early monitoring of blood pressure and treatment of hypertension is recommended in contrast early screening is not recommended.
In addition to kidney disease patients can have other problems including cerebral aneurysms, hepatic cysts, heart valve disease, divertiula of the colon, and abdominal hernias.
We offer free educational classes for patients here at U of L . The classes are conducted by our trained Nurse Practioners. These classes include:
- CKD Education: Learn about Chronic Kidney Disease, Risk factors for Kidney Disease, High Blood Pressure etc.
- Dialysis Options: What is dialysis, what are the different options available etc.
We provide Kidney Fact sheets & educational material for you to take home and read.
For more information or to schedule a appointment for a free class please call 502-813-6699.