what, why, and how of a kidney function test

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Kidney Function Test

They say that one should never begin a blog on a serious note, yet the sad fact remains: Close to a million people with moderate to severe kidney disease are unaware that they have the condition! 

Kidney function tests are carried out to determine if the kidneys are working properly or not. These tests become necessary if you have other conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

when do you need a kidney function test?

Checking BP

The improper functioning of kidney causes several symptoms. These symptoms might not mean anything serious. But, if the symptoms keep occurring frequently, your kidneys might not be working properly. If you see any of the following symptoms, you definitely need to consult a doctor:

  • Pain while urinating
  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Increase in the frequency of urination
  • Swollen hands and feet (fluids get built up in the body)
  • High blood pressure

what are kidney function tests?

Kidney Function tests are conducted to check if the kidneys are functioning efficiently or not. These can be simple blood or urine tests. Here are some of the Kidney Function Tests:

  1. Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)

To test the working of the kidney, your Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is calculated. GFR is the best method to find out the functioning of the kidney. Low GFR shows that the kidneys are not working well. GFR lower than 60 indicates signs of kidney disease.

It estimates how efficiently the kidneys are filtering waste out of the body. The test takes a look at factors like age, sex, height, weight, race, creatinine levels, etc.

  1. Urinalysis

This test looks out for blood and protein in the urine. If there is an infection, the amount of protein in urine increases. However, it is not a sure sign as there can be many reasons for the increased amount of protein in the urine. For example, a heavy workout can also cause increased protein in the urine. Usually, doctors conduct another test after a few weeks to see if the results are same.

For the test, a 24-hour urine sample is collected. This helps the doctor to determine how fast creatinine, a waste product that is the breakdown product of muscle tissue, is expelled from the body.

  1. Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)

The BUN test checks waste products present in the blood by calculating the amount of nitrogen (Urea Nitrogen is formed when the protein breakdowns). However, sometimes some medications can increase the content of nitrogen in the blood. So, before taking the test, make sure that your doctor knows about the additional supplements or medications that you are taking. The normal range for the BUN is 7-20. If it is any higher than that, it might be because of a health problem.

  1. Serum Creatinine Test

This test is used to determine if creatine is building up in your blood. Kidneys are responsible for filtering out creatinine and if it is building up, then your kidney is not working properly. For women, creatinine level higher than 1.2 indicates a kidney problem and for men, the level is 1.4.

how is a kidney function test performed?

There are only two ways by which a kidney function test is performed. They are:

Urine test

The 24-hour urine sample is collected to check the creatinine level in the body. You will be given large containers to store your urine. On the day of the test, as you wake up you urinate normally in the toilet. The rest of the day you urinate into the container. Next day, urinate into the container as you wake up. This will make it a 24-hour urine sample.

By Blood

Blood test

For the BUN and serum creatinine, blood samples are required. The blood is taken normally as in the other tests. The area under the puncture might get bruised a little. But, there will be no long-term pain.

what happens after the test?

After the test, if there are any issues, your doctor will focus on the treatment of the condition responsible for the symptoms. Usually, the doctor will prescribe some medications. However, for complete treatment, you have to bring a few dietary and lifestyle modifications.

lifestyle modification

If you have a condition like diabetes, you should consult an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist is the one who deals with the functioning of the endocrine system. If you have any metabolic disease and want to control the glucose level in the body, the endocrinologist is the one for you. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor would prescribe medications to reduce hypertension.

If you have kidney stones or having abnormal results due to the excessive use of some medications like painkillers, your doctor will suggest measures to control these disorders.

If you are think you need to get a kidney function test done, you can now get it done at the most comfortable of places: Your HOME. We will be at your doorstep at a time most convenient to you to collect your blood/urine sample and will get your test results delivered, thereby saving your precious productive time.

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