Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Your kidneys are important because they act as the filter system of the body.
They work with the rest of your organs to help you live a healthy life.
When the kidney functions falter, many life-altering issues can result.
Therefore, the sooner you know the health of your kidneys, the sooner you can take steps to protect them.
What do your kidneys do?
Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that sit in the back of your abdomen just below your ribcage.
Healthy kidneys are vital to your well-being. They help your body filter waste substances and expel them as urine.
Your kidneys are the major players in:
- Regulating your blood pressure
- Producing red blood cells needed to carry oxygen throughout your body
- Converting the inactive form of vitamin D into its active form
- Balancing the levels of salt, potassium and acid content in the body
Why should you take a kidney function test?
Some conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension), can damage the blood vessels in your kidneys and have a detrimental impact on the health of the kidneys.
If you suffer from one of these conditions, your doctor may use kidney function tests to help identify problems with your kidneys.
You may also need a kidney function test if you have symptoms that indicate possible kidney problems including:
- Blood in your urine
- Painful urination
- Frequent urge to urinate
What are the types of kidney function tests?
Kidney tests are simple procedures that use either the blood or urine to help identify issues in the kidneys.
Kidney function tests evaluate how effectively your kidneys are removing wastes and excess fluid from your system.
Know your kidney numbers. Your kidney numbers include 2 tests:
- ACR (Albumin to Creatinine Ratio)
- GFR (glomerular filtration rate)
Urine test – ACR
ACR stands for “albumin-to-creatinine ratio.” This test measures the amount of albumin (a type of protein) in your urine.
Albumin is a common type of protein found in the blood. Higher amounts of albumin leakage in the urine (called proteinuria) could indicate that your kidneys are not filtering the blood properly.
This could be one of the earliest signs of kidney disease. If your urine test for protein is positive, a follow-up test should be done to confirm the results.
Three positive results in three months or less is an indication of renal illness.
Blood test to estimate your GFR.
This test measures how well your kidneys are doing their job and how quickly the waste is being removed.
A simple blood test called GFR is one of the most common blood tests to check for chronic kidney disease.
This testing calculates filtration rates of creatinine, a waste product that comes from the normal wear and tears on muscles of the body.
When the kidneys are damaged, they have trouble getting rid of creatinine from your blood.
The GFR number gives your doctor an indication of how well your kidneys are working to clean your blood.
Normal GFR levels may vary according to age (as you get older it can decrease).
If your GFR is low, it is an indicator that your kidneys are not working as efficiently as they should.
Your kidneys are one of the most hardworking organs in the body.
It is essential to keep these tiny organs healthy, because most people with early kidney disease do not have symptoms, until the very late stages.
That is why it is important to have your kidneys checked regularly.
If you are concerned about the health of your kidneys, or you’re at risk for kidney disease due to high blood pressure, or diabetes, have a genetic predisposition to kidney failure or if you are over 60 years of age, it’s important to get tested annually for kidney disease.
Your nephrologist can help decide on a treatment plan that best fits your needs.