Nephrology is the medical specialty that focuses on the kidneys and their function.
We have two kidneys. They are located on the lower back of the abdomen on each side of the spinal column.
The kidneys perform numerous functions. The main one is to regulate water and electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes are mineral, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, etc.
The kidneys are also involved in the making of red blood cells and in the regulation of blood pressure.
Hence, kidney dysfunction is likely to produce one or several disorders, such as hypertension, anemia, high potassium levels, bone disease, etc.
Diseases of the kidney may be primary or secondary. They are primary when they have no identifiable cause. They are secondary when they are the consequence of other diseases. Hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, AIDS, diseases of the blood vessels, some medications, among many other etiologies, can cause secondary hypertension.
Early kidney disease is usually silent. Why? Because half of one kidney can provide a good level of kidney function. So until a patient loses 75% (three quarters) of kidney function, he may not even know about his diseased kidneys.
The first clinical manifestations of severe kidney diseases are often an increase in blood pressure and leg swelling.