- Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease
- Kidney Disease Stages
- What Is a Nephrologist?
- What to Expect with CKD
- Managing Kidney Disease
- Understanding Acute Kidney Injury
- How Kidneys Work
- Take a FREE CLASS on Kidney Disease
What is a Nephrologist (Kidney Doctor)?
A nephrologist, also known as a kidney doctor, is a kidney disease specialist and is the most qualified doctor to help you manage your kidney health. If you’re living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a nephrologist offers the expertise, guidance, and support to help you stay your healthiest—and keep your kidneys working as long as possible.
What does a nephrologist do?
As your kidney doctor, your nephrologist will work with you and your primary care physician to create a kidney Care Plan based on your CKD stage and your unique health needs. This Care Plan will be the blueprint for you and your care team as you look after your kidneys.
Your nephrologist can also:
- Help you maintain kidney health
- Monitor your lab test results closely
- Recommend medications that may help slow CKD progression
- Collaborate with your care team
- Update your Care Plan, as necessary
- Answer any questions about your kidney health
- Work with other doctors you may see
- Help you plan for any future kidney health needs
Why see a nephrologist—and when to see one
With kidney disease, taking early action can help slow the progression of kidney disease and have a big impact on your health. If you haven’t already gotten a referral to a kidney doctor from your primary care physician at stage 3 CKD, ask for one. Seeing a nephrologist at stage 3, or eGFR 30, can help ensure that you’re doing everything you can to manage your kidney health and improve your health outcomes.
|YOUR CKD STAGE||WHO TO WORK WITH||BENEFITS|
|Stage 1 CKD &
Stage 2 CKD
|Your primary care physician||
In early stages, your doctor can help you:
|Stage 3 CKD||A nephrologist & your other doctor(s)||
A nephrologist & your other doctor(s)
|Stage 4 CKD||A nephrologist & your other doctor(s)||
Working with a kidney doctor at stage 4 can help you:
|Stage 5 CKD||A nephrologist & your other doctor(s)||
Working with a kidney doctor at stage 5 can help you:
How much does it cost to see a nephrologist?
The cost to see a kidney doctor can vary, depending on your insurance coverage. Finding a nephrologist who’s in your insurance provider network can help you manage costs. It’s important to consider that seeing a nephrologist early can help you stay your healthiest and achieve better outcomes—which may also help you manage future healthcare needs and expenses. If you have questions, talk to your insurance provider about your plan coverage.
UNDERSTANDING THE STAGES OF CKD
There are 5 stages of chronic kidney disease. Your stage is determined by your level of kidney function. Knowing your stage and what steps to take can help you stay your healthiest.learn about the stages
What to expect at your first nephrologist appointment
At your first visit, your kidney doctor will review your medical history to understand your signs and symptoms, risk factors, and any other health concerns that may be affecting your kidney health. Here are some routine first steps in working with your kidney doctor:
- You will also be given blood and urine tests to help make or confirm a kidney disease diagnosis.
- Additional testing may also be performed, if necessary.
- Your kidney doctor will make an official diagnosis and determine your CKD stage.
- Your kidney doctor will talk to you about the first steps to take in your Care Plan.
- Depending on your stage, you may also be referred to other care team members who can help. If you're not already working with a renal dietitian, ask for a referral so you can focus on eating well.
How to get the most out of your nephrologist visit
Your kidney doctor is here to help you live your best life with kidney disease. So that you can work well together, it’s important to get all the information you need to feel comfortable and in charge of your health decisions—at any stage.
Tips for your next nephrologist appointment
- Ask questions—your kidney doctor wants you to have all the answers you need to make informed health choices.
- Take a pen and paper—sometimes it's hard to remember or absorb new information. Make notes so you can refer to them later.
- Take a loved one with you—hearing information firsthand can help your care partner better understand your diagnosis. Your loved one may also have questions of his or her own.