Contributed by- Dr. Snehal Singh
Kidneys are one of the most important organs in our body. Their main function is to filter toxic wastes and excrete it in the form of urine. Our health, lifestyle and medical problems have a great impact on our kidneys. Most kidney problems affect men and women as they age, due to existing medical problems and other factors. In some cases, children too may be affected due to congenital problems, metabolic disorders or other reasons. Kidney problems usually take a long time to develop. Regular monitoring of kidney function may hence become necessary for some people.
Doctors suggest kidney diagnostic tests, commonly known as renal function test or kidney function test to determine the kidney performance with the help of certain parameters. They are also a part of routine tests, these days. These test help to determine possible kidney problems and can help in planning effective treatment options.
Know about kidney function tests and its importance to take an informed decision for yourself.
Kidney problems include a range of complaints, depending on the nature of the disease. However, most common symptoms of kidney problems include
- Painful urination
- Difficulty in passing urine
- Decreased or increased urination
- Burning sensation before or after urinating
- Presence of blood in urine or change in the nature of urineOther complaints that may indicate kidney problems include
- Raised blood pressure
- Swelling of face, hands, ankles or feet
- Scanty urine
It may be a cause of concern when such symptoms occur together. Kidney function tests are a useful tool, which helps to detect any abnormality in kidney function.
Kidney Function Tests/Renal Function Tests
KFT are simple tests that measure certain substances in your blood and urine. These substances are related to filtration in kidneys, which give an idea of kidney function. These tests mainly detect levels of serum creatinine and blood urea nitrogen, which are done through a blood test.
A 24-hour urine sample may be taken to detect creatinine clearance from the body and filtration rate of the kidneys. There are other parameters like protein, albumin, minerals, electrolytes, etc., which may also be checked, depending on the type of kidney tests.
Serum creatinine is considered as a major indicator in kidney function tests. If kidneys do not perform their function of filtering effectively, creatinine is not excreted in urine and gets accumulated in blood. Any disturbances in kidney function and filtration can result in higher levels of creatinine in the blood.
When to do Kidney Function Test?
People with the following problems or suspected to have the below mentioned conditions are at greater risk of kidney disorders. Doctors often recommend renal function tests in such cases.
- High blood pressure
- Autoimmune disorders
- Existing kidney problems
- Serious infections or
- Aging people
- Kidney failure
Similarly, many people who wish to stay healthy, undergo routine health checks to evaluate their kidney function.
Some medicines, dyes injected for certain investigation or procedures, may need the kidneys to function efficiently. Hence before undergoing such advanced investigations, prior to initiation of specific treatment or certain procedures, some people may have to get their creatinine levels checked. This ensures normal kidney functioning, which is considered safe for such treatments of procedures.
In case the kidney function is affected, necessary action can be taken. It may be due to underlying medical conditions, which may need additional investigations. Sometimes, it is due to intake of certain medications or changes in routine, in which case, the doctor may make appropriate changes. These tests may be repeated after necessary treatment to monitor the improvement in kidney function.
Normal Range of KFT
The result of kidney function test is a report with many numbers. It is thus important to know the kidney function test normal range to understand your kidney numbers.
- Normal blood urea nitrogen (BUN) ranges between 8 to 25 mg/dL
- Normal serum creatinine ranges between 0.5 to 1.3 mg/dL.
These values vary in men and women, in pregnant women, athletes and also with your regular activity levels. There are variations based on a person’s diet, exercise routine, kidney function and of course, individual laboratory reports.
How to Check Kidney Function at Home?
Some people may need to undergo kidney diagnostic tests more often. So, knowing how to check kidney function at home is convenient. These days, when there are various options available, a home kidney function test can be handy. These may include testing urine with a dipstick, which detects the presence of abnormal substances like protein in urine. Presence of protein in urine indicates kidney damage and needs medical attention at the earliest.
Home tests are useful to get an idea of a possible abnormality, but a laboratory kidney function test aids inaccurate diagnosis and treatment. This test is a detailed analysis of your kidney function. For convenience of checking kidney function at home, it is recommended to book test from pathology labs that offer home sample collection. Also, based on the symptoms and suspected conditions, doctor may suggest additional investigations.
Kidney function tests are an important part of your health check. They are useful to detect and monitor kidney problems, assess kidney function to prevent complications of diabetes and high blood pressure or as a part of routine diagnostic tests.
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