Remember the bean-shaped organ called the kidney you learned about in school but forgot to take care of it? Are we right?
Kidneys are important for the smooth functioning of the body. The kidneys play a role of paramount importance when it comes to the filtration and purification of our circulatory system.
So, it’s a no-brainer that you have to take care of them. Taking care of them cannot go without regular screenings that evaluate how well your kidneys are performing.
Let’s take a closer look at these tests and provide you with essential information if you are going to take a kidney function test.
So, let’s get started, shall we? Before we do, let’s take a moment to give you a little recap of kidneys and the functions they perform.
Kidneys and their functions
Located bilaterally along the spinal axis, these renal structures function as filters, expelling waste and superfluous fluids from the bloodstream. Even though it is the primary function, it also helps the body in several other ways. The kidneys assume a critical role in regulating blood pressure, maintaining electrolytic equilibrium, and regulating the production of red blood cells. Any derangement in these functions can cause a serious threat to overall health.
Common kidney function tests you need to know about
Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR):
GFR stands as a crucial metric in examining the kidneys’ proficiency in filtering waste from the bloodstream. This metric, factoring in variables such as age, gender, and creatinine levels, offers a comprehensive evaluation of renal health, with a diminished GFR serving as an indicator of compromised kidney function.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN):
BUN measures the concentration of urea nitrogen in the blood. Elevated BUN levels can point to renal impairment or other conditions impacting kidney function, including dehydration or cardiac insufficiency.
The measurement of creatinine levels, a metabolic byproduct of muscle activity eliminated by the kidneys, helps identify anomalies in renal function. Elevated creatinine levels correlate with diminished kidney function.
The meticulous analysis of urine composition offers valuable insights into kidney health. The presence of hematuria, proteinuria, or aberrant levels of specific substances within the urine can be indicative of underlying renal pathology.
Reasons why you are prescribed kidney function tests
Early detection of renal pathologies:
Kidney disorders frequently advance quietly, with symptoms emerging only in advanced stages. Regular kidney function tests serve as a proactive mechanism for the timely identification of these disorders, facilitating prompt intervention and management.
Monitoring chronic medical conditions:
Individuals grappling with chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension are likely to suffer from renal complications. Routine kidney function tests can be useful in monitoring these individuals closely and formulating an effective and personalised treatment plan.
Evaluation of medication impact:
Certain medicines may have an adverse effect on renal function. Systematic kidney function testing allows healthcare practitioners to evaluate the impact of medications, enabling judicious dosage adjustments or the consideration of alternative medications.
How are kidney function tests performed?
Kidney function tests consist of an array of diagnostic procedures designed to evaluate the efficiency and health of the kidneys. One of the primary methods involves a blood test to measure specific markers like creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Elevated levels of these substances can indicate potential issues with kidney function.
The Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is often calculated using a formula that takes into account factors like age, gender, and creatinine levels, providing a comprehensive assessment of the kidney’s filtering capacity.
Additionally, urinalysis, which involves analysing the composition of urine, is a common tool. The presence of abnormal levels of proteins, blood, or certain substances can offer valuable insights into kidney health. The combination of these tests allows healthcare professionals to form a comprehensive picture of renal function.
What do you need to keep in mind before the test?
Before undergoing kidney function tests, there are certain considerations individuals should be mindful of to ensure accurate results and a smooth testing process. Firstly, it is essential to inform the healthcare provider about any medications being taken, as certain drugs can impact test results. This includes over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Adequate hydration is also crucial, as it helps ensure a representative urine sample for tests like urinalysis. Fasting might be required before certain blood tests, and the healthcare provider will provide specific instructions regarding this.
It’s important to communicate any existing health conditions, allergies, or recent illnesses to the healthcare team, as these factors can influence the interpretation of test results. Being transparent about one’s medical history enables the healthcare provider to make informed decisions about the testing protocol. Overall, adherence to pre-test instructions and open communication with healthcare professionals contribute to the accuracy and reliability of kidney function test results.
Kidneys emerge as central conductors, harmonising bodily functions. Kidney function tests assume the role of offering clarity on the health status of these vital organs and affording avenues for proactive intervention.