Kidneys have many vital roles in regulating our bodies’ health and wellbeing and can be considered the silent partner to a good health. However, due to the fact that often there few warning signs, kidney diseases are also called silent diseases. The lucky ones may experience a swollen kidney, aching kidneys or other symptoms of kidney infection such as difficulty passing urine, but for the most part kidney ailments go unnoticed. It is estimated that up to 90% of kidney function can be lost without any clear signs.
The good news is that they can function for years even if they are damaged, so if the disease is discovered early, lifestyle and a healthy kidney diet along with medication can keep you feeling good and increase kidneys’ life for as long as possible.
Kidney disease diagnose
Some of the more severe diseases that can affect kidneys include cancer, kidney stones, and inherited disorders (like polycystic kidney disease). Kidney disease diagnose can be done through several tests including a kidney blood test, urine test, imaging studies, or biopsy of the kidney or bladder. The risk of kidney failure can be reduced significantly if the disease is diagnosed early. That is why it is very important to consult your doctor and perform a kidney function test upon medical advice.
Routine Kidney Function Tests
These tests are performed to determine kidney functioning. They should reveal any abnormalities, if these actually exist. If routine tests indicate any kind of problems, you may be required to do other specific tests. The most common laboratory tests are:
1. BUN test
BUN test – this stands for blood, urea and nitrogen. The test measures the content of nitrogen found in blood urea. The degradation of proteins results into waste called urea, which is filtered by the liver, and then excreted in urine. Normal values of nitrogen range from 7 to 20 mg/dl. Elevated kidney levels can suggest impaired kidney function, like decreased blood flow to kidneys or acute chronic kidney disease. Decreased concentration of nitrogen in blood urea may occur in cases of severe kidney disease or malnutrition.
2. Urine creatinine
This test is performed to measure the amount of creatinine found in urine. Kidneys filter creatinine and excrete it in urine. Normal values of creatinine may vary with age, and range between 500 to 2000 mg/day. Any imbalance in these values suggests impaired kidney function.
3. Blood creatinine
This test is performed to determine the filtering capabilities of kidneys, measuring the amount of creatinine in blood. When muscles are put to use, creatinine is created as a byproduct of creatine. This is filtered from blood by the liver and kidneys excrete it into urine.
Normal values of creatinine range between 0.8 – 1.4 mg/dl. It is a common fact that males have higher levels of creatinine that females due to muscle mass. Increased levels of creatinine can indicate conditions like pvelonephritis, glomerulonephritis, kidney stones, acute tubular necrosis, complications of diabetes or prostate disease. During pregnancy, creatinine levels may be slightly decreased.
4. Creatinine clearance
This is a test performed to determine how kidneys function, and adverse results may suggest decreased blood flow to kidney like in congestive heart failure, or kidney dysfunction. Creatinine is used to estimate GFR, or glomerular filtration rate. Normal values of GFR range between 88 – 128 mL/min for females and 97 – 137 mL/min for males. High levels of GFR may indicate the chance of kidney failure.
5. Dissolved salts
This is another routine test to measure the dissolved salts in blood, such as potassium, bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride. These salts are often referred to as electrolytes. Any abnormal levels of dissolved salts in blood may indicate kidney problems, although there are other conditions that influence these levels.
Why and when are these tests performed
Routine kidney function tests are commonly performed:
- As a general health assessment part
- If you are suspect of a kidney failure
- If you are dehydrated
Before and after you are treated with certain medicines – some drugs may cause kidney damages as a side-effect; thus, kidney function is checked before, during or after the treatment.
Maintaining healthy kidneys
The risk of kidney disease is significantly reduced if:
- You control your blood pressure
- You become a non-smoker
- If you have diabetes, you ensure a good control of blood glucose
- You exercise regularly, stay fit and eat a healthy diet in order to maintain a healthy weight
- You drink only water and stay away of sugary drinks
- You reduce salt intake and avoid high salt foods
- You drink alcohol moderately
- Do a kidney detox
An early diagnose followed by prompt treatment can reduce the risk of kidney failure and prevent the condition to worsen. Therefore your periodical medical tests should always be up to date and you should consult a doctor if you have any questions or just want medical advice about routine kidney tests.
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