According to the National Center for Health Statistics survey, at least 6 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with kidney disease in 2018.
Your two kidneys are vital organs that perform essential roles in maintaining your health. Their primary functions include controlling water levels and essential minerals such as sodium for the body's optimum functioning.
Additionally, they help remove waste material from the blood; the kidneys are comprised of millions of nephrons, commonly referred to as blood-filtering units that filter waste such as urine from the blood.
The kidneys also help perform other miscellaneous roles, such as producing hormones that impact your overall body health.
What is Kidney Disease?
Kidney disease is a condition in which your kidneys are not functioning properly, leading to an abnormal concentration of waste products and chemical substances that may be life-threatening.
Therefore, it is advisable to ask your doctor about kidney disease screening. The sooner you get checked, the sooner you can seek treatment to protect your kidneys.
About Kidney Disease
A diagnosis of kidney disease is often defined by the gradual loss of kidney functions, such as filtration of waste from the blood and a high amount of protein in the urine.
Risk Factors for Kidney Disease
The main risk factors for kidney disease include the following:
- Diabetes: uncontrolled diabetes leads to high blood glucose that gradually damages the kidneys' nephrons.
- High blood pressure: it can cause damage to kidneys' blood vessels
- Age: Older people above 60 are at a higher risk to develop kidney disease
- Family history of inherited disorders such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD).
Causes of Kidney Disease
Different conditions can lead to a loss in kidney function. The leading causes include the following:
- Decrease in blood flow to the kidneys
- Drainage blockage from the kidney that is caused by enlarged prostate and kidney stones
- Family history of inherited diseases such as polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
- High blood pressure
- Damage to kidney's filtering units (glomerulonephritis).
Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
Most people with kidney disease do not exhibit visible symptoms until their kidneys are badly damaged. The disease progresses silently without significant signs to suspect problems related to loss of kidney functions. However, lab tests during routine health examination can help detect early signs such as:
- Hematuria (traces of blood in urine sample)
- Proteinuria (proteins in the urine sample)
- Decreased eGFR
- Elevated creatinine
- A decrease in the amount of urine
- Urination problems such as burning sensation and abnormal discharge.
You may also notice the following symptoms in chronic kidney disease:
- Muscle cramps
- Darkened skin
- Numbness in feet
- Signs such as swollen legs and ankles that depict fluid retention.
Lab Tests for Kidney Disease
Doctors use different tests to check for kidney disease. They check your kidney numbers using the GFR (glomerular filtration rate) or ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio) tests.
You may need the following lab tests and procedures for kidney disease diagnosis:
Blood Tests for Kidney Disease Testing
Most kidney function tests involve blood tests. Your doctor will check how well your kidney filters waste from your blood. The doctor will check the following:
One sign of early kidney disease progression is the presence of creatinine in the blood. When your kidney muscles wear and tear, they produce creatinine as a waste product.
Creatinine level above 1.2 and 1.4 in women and men respectively shows that your kidney is not functioning correctly. However, these levels may vary depending on body size and age.
When you eat protein, your body breaks it down, and urea nitrogen is one of its waste products. A doctor will measure the level of urea nitrogen in your blood to check the level of your kidney function.
Often, the expected level should be between 7 and 20. An increase in its levels in the blood depicts a decrease in kidney function.
One of a healthy kidney's indicators is its ability to filter waste and excess fluid from your blood. Doctors use the estimated glomerular filtration rate to test for creatinine levels in your blood. Your GFR number helps doctors to determine the stage of your kidney disease.
The standard GFR value should be above 60. Your kidneys are not working properly if it drops below 60. Moreover, you are at a higher risk for kidney failure once your GFR drops to below 15.
Doctors can determine the level of protein leaks from your kidney by conducting a urine test. A standard urine test includes the following:
Doctors conduct a microscopic examination to check for abnormalities such as the presence of excess proteins, blood, pus, and sugar in your urine sample. A urinalysis is effective in detecting chronic kidney disease and kidney stones.
A Urine protein test
This test confirms proteinuria, an excess amount of proteins in your urine.
Microalbumin (Checking Albumin in Urine)
The doctor uses this urine test to check a protein called albumin in your urine sample. Microalbumin testing encompasses using a sensitive dipstick test mostly for people at high risk of developing kidney disease.
A Test For Creatinine Clearance
Creatinine clearance test compares the level of creatinine in your urine sample. The doctor uses a 24-hours urine sample to determine how much waste the kidney filter out.
A doctor can order a kidney ultrasound to assess its structure or size.
A small sample of your kidney tissue may be examined for signs of damage. Doctors administer local anesthesia when performing a kidney biopsy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kidney Disease and Lab Testing for Kidney Disease
Some fundamental questions about chronic kidney disease and kidney lab testing that you may ask your doctor include the following:
- What is causing damage to my kidneys?
- Is the level of damage to my kidney worsening?
- Do I need a further lab test?
- When can I see a kidney screening specialist?
- How frequently should I have my kidney function tested in a year?
- How can I manage kidney disease together with another health condition?
- Should I consult a dietician to help me plan a special diet?
Get To Know Your Kidney Health: Order Your Kidney Disease Tests at Ulta Lab Tests Today!
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