PRINE Health

Kidney Health

Irwin Fletcher
What Is Telenephrology, And Why Should I Consider It?

Telenephrology – Telemedicine is not as new as you might think. It got its start in the late 1950s and was originally conceived as a way for doctors to reach patients in remote areas. Many people live in places where reaching a doctor isn’t a simple matter.

Having a way to connect with a doctor who knows your medical history is essential. If it’s not easy or even possible to go to see your doctor for a personal visit, Telemedicine can be the pathway to better health. Due to the Corona Virus, many people have been quarantined, especially those who have compromised health issues. Kidney disease is a serious illness. If you are someone facing this health issue, staying home, and not subjecting yourself to exposure to the virus, is of utmost importance.

Nephrologists, specialists, and, in fact, most doctors are using Telemedicine more than ever and not just to reach patients in remote locations but for patients who find it safer, smarter, and more economical to “see” them virtually. Now, with the constant improvements in technology, a doctor can meet virtually with patients by connecting through services like Zoom and Skype, or even Facetime. The doctor will be in his/her office, with the patient in the safety and comfort of their own home, saving time and money for both.

Today, medical offices are having to spread outpatient visits so that vigorous cleaning can be done between visits. Masks need to be worn by both Doc and the patient. When utilizing telenephrology, a doctor can see more patients and/or spend more time with each patient. Doctors can offer their services conveniently for any hours they choose. Suppose you are experiencing an issue that you feel may need immediate attention and need to quickly see a doctor. In that case, Telemedicine can likely get face-to-face with your doctor.

How Will Your Nephrologists Work with You Via Telemedicine

Unfortunately, chronic kidney disease is on the rise in the United States. If you are having issues with your kidneys, you will need to have a Nephrologist on your medical team. It’s best if your nephrologist works with your primary doctor to create proper plans for your health.

Testing for kidney issues has improved dramatically. Testing has exposed the fact that a higher number of people need help with this disease. It’s added to the already heavy burden on the health care system. Dealing with the Corona Virus has been an enormous strain on our hospitals, doctors, nurses, and others in the medical field. Keeping patients with existing chronic medical conditions is an added factor. The less personal contact, the better so more people are opting to meet their nephrologists and their primary doctors virtually through Telemedicine, which also collaborates with both the specialist and the primary doctor.

An element of Telenephrology is the use of websites or apps which allow your family physician to upload important data regarding your kidney disease for your nephrologist into the software. The nephrologist will then use that information to help create a plan or keep a new patient as healthy as possible.

Saving Time and Money

On average, a telenephrology consultation takes less than 10 minutes. No receptionist or nurse is needed in these sessions, thus saving on office expenses. Scheduling is often done online or with a scheduling app. The doctor-patient relationship is more of a one-on-one experience. This conversation only involves the doctor and the patient without the need for the whole office visit experience. Short check-ins like this can happen more often so that the doctor can stay up to date with their patient’s condition. Knowing what a patient with kidney disease is experiencing on a more regular basis without the burden of time-consuming office business can significantly improve patient care.

These visits are shorter, and to the point, so they are often more productive. The goal is to improve the health and, ultimately, the survival of patients. Insurance costs are less with Telemedicine. These kinds of visits are generally less expensive, which can help patients who are paying for some of their health care out of pocket.

Most people will say that they do not enjoy their visits to their nephrologists or other doctors. Sitting in an office, waiting nervously for your name to be called, now wearing a mask in most cases, is no picnic. If you have never experienced Telemedicine or telenephrology, ask your doctors if they offer this alternative to in-office visits.

If you seek a consultation with a nephrologist and would like to consider a telemedicine experience, PRINE Health would be happy to set up a consultation for you.

Irwin Fletcher
Excessive Protein And Its Influence On Kidney Health

When we think of protein, we think about meat, peanut butter, beans, and other foods that we need in our daily diet for a balanced diet. We don’t typically think about protein in relation to our urine or our kidney health.

If you have been noticing a frothiness in your urine and/or swelling in your hands, feet, or face, it may be time that you visit with your health care specialist, as you could be showing signs of proteinuria (protein in urine) and kidney issues. In a normal healthy urine sample, one will find mostly water (roughly 95%) and then small amounts of urea, chloride, sodium, potassium, creatine, and other compounds deemed unnecessary and as waste by the body. But when things such as large amounts of protein appear in a collection sample, they serve as a little red flag for healthcare professionals.

Normal urine generally produces anywhere between 0 to 14mg/dL of protein. Finding transient proteinuria, a common benign condition is often caused by fever, dehydration, emotional stress, exposure to extreme cold, or heavy exercise. Often, transient proteinuria cases will take care of themselves, usually because that which was causing the body to make haste with the protein waste has cleared up. For more severe conditions, it is important to understand that the excess protein in the urine is not what is hurting your body. It is more of a side effect or a sign that a real serious problem could be lurking in the shadows of your body.

According to average medical standards, anything higher than 14mg/dL could mean the person is experiencing other health-related problems that should be addressed quickly.

Among the more serious problems related to the high levels of protein found in urine include:

  • Amyloidosis (a build-up of protein in organs causing them not to work properly)
  • Excessive consumption of anti-inflammatory medications (these can be rough on the kidneys)
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD is when the kidneys begin to fail, and waste builds up in the body)
  • Diabetes – (too much sugar in the blood)
  • Endocarditis ( infection in the lining of the heart)
  • Lupus (an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues)
  • Heart Failure (a condition in which the heart does not pump blood as well as it should)
  • Sarcoidosis (a collection of inflammatory cells that form lumps, or granulomas)
  • Sickle Cell Anemia (when red blood cells become misshapen causing them to misfunction)
  • Nephrosis (damage to the small blood vessels in the kidneys)
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancer of a part of the immune system)
  • Preeclampsia – (high blood pressure during pregnancy)

There are many things that your health care specialist can suggest that can help you protect and prevent further kidney damage. For instance, some studies have shown that inadequate vitamin D levels could make you up to twice as likely to develop kidney disease. Supplements or spending 15 minutes a day in the sun can increase your body’s vitamin D levels. Dialysis is used when your kidneys can no longer function at an adequate level to remove the wastes.

The National Kidney Foundation (formerly the National Nephrosis Foundation) was founded by Ada DeBold after her son developed and eventually succumbed to kidney failure. This foundation has helped advance the knowledge and treatment of kidney disease over the past 70 years.

The key to healthy kidneys is proper maintenance. Of course, drinking water and maintaining a healthy diet will help with overall kidney function. Unfortunately, we have not quite figured out how to turn off the genetic components that make the body more susceptible to kidney damage.  The future is bright, and scientists are always looking, researching, and developing new treatments. Having a primary care doctor that can coordinate with a kidney specialist is critical if you develop issues with your kidneys.
Recent studies have found that the kidneys can sometimes repair themselves. This is a slow and tedious process as the owner of the kidneys must be careful with their overall consumption of foods and medications while maintaining proper health to support the natural repairing process. This is wonderful news compared to the long-assumed notion that the kidney cells are unable to regenerate after fully developing. Talk to your doctor and kidney specialist about diet and treatments that can slow down the progress as much as possible.

If you have questions or would like to talk to a specialist in the field, reach out to us at PRINE Health. We have offices in New York State but also offer excellent telemedicine options.

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