If David Gile, M.D., could share just one important message during National Kidney Month, it would be this:
Kidney disease is a silent disease; it can remain undetected for years. But a couple of simple tests can detect kidney concerns quickly.
Dr. Gile is a nephrologist, or kidney specialist, in the Specialty Clinic at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center. He is board certified in nephrology and a specialist in hypertension, also known as high blood pressure.
In these roles, Dr. Gile wanted to share information during March, when there is a national effort to raise awareness about kidney disease.
The screenings he suggests are blood and urine tests. Creatinine is detected in blood samples, and if levels are elevated, there could be cause for concern. This applies to men and women, especially those with a family history of kidney disease, which is often caused by hypertension or diabetes.
“We highly encourage patients to see their primary-care physicians regularly for these basic screenings,” Dr. Gile said. “They can identify the disease early or confirm there is no disease present. The key is prevention, especially because this is a quiet problem.”
There are some symptoms of kidney disease but they can be subtle. Symptoms include fluid retention, such as swelling in the ankles; urine the color of iced tea; and a persistent foaminess of the urine.
“We have to keep in mind that A does not always mean B, but those are some general symptoms,” he commented. “It could be years before there is a big problem but the sooner we know the better.
“There are more and more things we can do,” he added. “It could be something as simple as an over-the-counter medicine, or maybe a prescription, or a change in diet. But, on the other hand, a biopsy could be called for.”
Dr. Gile’s home base is Wichita Nephrology Group; he has been treating patients for 20 years at St. Rose’s first-floor Specialty Clinic.
He travels to Great Bend on the first Tuesday and third Wednesday of the month, treating 15 to 20 patients each time. During a third monthly visit, he sees patients at the dialysis center.
“St. Rose has always been very accommodating,” Dr. Gile said. “I really appreciate all the lab personnel; they are accurate and reliable. They communicate well with me and provide the precise data we need.”
Nephrologists are medical doctors, not surgeons. They provide direction of dialysis treatments and “can fine-tune how the process goes,” Dr. Gile said. “We also offer medical management of kidney transplant patients and treat acute loss of kidney function.”
In addition, nephrologists manage electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. “If electrolytes get out of whack, we can help get the body chemistry back in alignment,” he said. “We also see people with kidney stones and are often called for a second opinion for hypertension that has been resistant to treatment.
“We always want to get to the reason for a particular problem,” he summarized. “When we know the reason, we can find the right treatment.”
St. Rose is part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.