Nephrology Department I Gleneagles Hospital

Nephrology and Urology

Nephrology is a branch of internal medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases.

Kidney Conditions and Symptoms

Diabetic Nephropathy (DN) or Diabetic Kidney Disease

It is a chronic loss of kidney function in those with diabetes and may progress to severe complications, including renal failure. The kidneys’ ability to effectively remove waste products and extra fluids from the body is decreased in this condition.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Swelling of feet, ankles, or hands.
  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Persistent itching
  • Fatigue


In glomerulonephritis, blood is inefficiently filtered because the blood vessels in the kidney become inflamed. This condition may occur on its own or secondary to other diseases such as infections, lupus, and diabetes.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Blood in the urine (haematuria)
  • Foamy urine
  • Decreased urine output
  • Swelling of hands, face, and feet due to fluid retention
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue

Glomerulonephritis can result in complete kidney damage if left untreated.

Fluid and Electrolyte Abnormalities

Changes in natural potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium levels may impact muscle strength, heart rhythm and other body functions. Fluid and electrolyte imbalance could show up as oedema, causing swelling and pain in arms, legs, feet, and hands.

On the other hand, symptoms of dehydration include weakness, excessive thirst, light-headedness, fainting, and dark-coloured, and foul-smelling urine.

Acute Kidney Injury

Also known as AKI, acute kidney injury is a condition of sudden and temporary loss of kidney function. It can be a minor loss of kidney function or kidney failure. 

The most common symptoms are:

  • Reduction in urine production
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Drowsiness

AKI can be fatal if not urgently treated. In the absence of prompt treatment, it can affect other organs.

End-stage kidney disease

End-stage kidney disease or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) is the last stage of chronic kidney disease when your kidneys can no longer support your body’s needs.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Fatigue and shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Unbearable itching
  • Poor appetite
  • Abnormally light or dark skin 
  • Bad breath 
  • Excessive thirst
  • Weigh loss
  • Persistent headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Confusion and lack of alertness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Easy bruising 
  • Amenorrhea 

Find out more about the five stages of kidney failure that are determined via tests, and each stage calls for a different kind of treatment.


Proteinuria is high levels of protein in your urine. This condition is often seen in those with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Proteins are filtered by glomeruli (tiny loops of capillaries) in the kidneys. However, when the glomeruli are damaged, there is no reabsorption of proteins, and the excess flows into the urine. 

The most common symptoms are:

  • Foamy urine
  • Puffiness and/or swelling of the face and/or limbs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Nausea

Renal Cell Carcinoma

Renal cell cancer, also known as kidney cancer or renal cell adenocarcinoma is a disease characterised by the presence of cancerous cells in the tubule lining of the kidney.

The early stages may be asymptomatic. However, symptoms appear as the tumour grows, such as:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Noticeable lump in the kidney area or abdomen
  • Weight loss 
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anaemia 
  • Pain in the side of the abdomen

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a genetic disease that causes the growth of cysts in the kidneys. Cysts caused by PKD can alter the shape of your kidneys, including making them significantly larger.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the abdomen, back or flank
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blood in the urine
  • Increased abdomen size 

PKD is a type of chronic kidney disease (CKD) that diminishes kidney function and may result in renal failure.

Screening tests and diagnosis of kidney conditions

High risk individuals due to existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or have a family history of kidney problems are advised to undergo regular screening tests.

When diagnosed at an early stage, options for early treatment often have a positive outcome, and the progression of the disease may also be slowed.

Diagnosis is made based on various investigations. Your doctor will first evaluate your medical history and symptoms before conducting a physical examination. Often kidney conditions can be hereditary, so reference to family history for genetic predispositions are often scrutinised.

  1. Blood & urine tests: To identify any abnormalities related to renal function, the filtration rate will often be analysed and the presence of protein in urine is often taken into consideration.
  2. Blood pressure measurement: To detect an increase in blood pressure. Renal dysfunction (an early sign of renal failure) is usually highlighted by an increase in blood pressure.
  3. Ultrasound scan: To provide imagery for specialists to visually examine the physical condition of your kidney
  4. Kidney biopsy: Cells from the kidney are extracted for thorough examination to determine its condition.

Treatment options for kidney conditions and diseases

  1. Lifestyle changes
    • Lifestyle changes may be recommended to help control and relieve any symptoms.
    • Dietary changes such as diets lower in sodium, protein, and potassium is recommended.
    • Monitor your fluid intake levels carefully.
    • Your doctor may advise you to take certain supplements such as calcium and Vitamin D.
  2. Medication
    • Some medications may help treat any underlying causes, such as diabetes or hypertension, thus helping to relieve your symptoms and slow disease progression.
    • These include medicines in the categories of Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and diabetic medications.
    • Your doctor may also prescribe certain medicines to help your body to produce erythropoietin (a chemical required to make red blood cells).
  3. Dialysis
    • Dialysis is typically recommended when chronic kidney disease has reached an advanced stage.
    • The dialysis machine will be used to replicate the functions of the kidney.
  4. Kidney Transplant
    • A complete kidney transplant may be the most suitable option for patients with advanced kidney disease. However, this treatment needs to consider various factors like the availability of a donor kidney, general health, patient age and finances.
    • A successful transplant indicates that the patient will not require to be on dialysis support in future. However, certain medications may be needed to be taken even after the transplant. 

Nephrology Specialists at Gleneagles Hospitals

Speak to your doctor to learn more about kidney diseases. The caring and multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals are available for consultation and to provide the best care. Make a move towards improving your health and quality of life. 

Get in touch with us to book an appointment today. We assure you the best possible care tailored to your specific needs.

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