Kidneys perform an essential function by removing waste from the body. The kidney also helps in removing acid from the body. If the capacity of kidneys dwindles, it causes various ailments. If the waste is not removed through urine, it may accumulate and create problems. A kidney function test gives insights into kidney health and assists doctors to formulate the course of treatment.
What are the symptoms of kidney problems?
Our bodies have symptoms if any organ is not working correctly. The malfunctioning of one organ can lead to many problems. Pay attention to symptoms and consult your doctor about any doubts. The following symptoms may come up if the kidneys are not functioning optimally.
- Swelling in hands and feet
- Water retention
- High blood pressure
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Painful or burning sensation while urinating
- Blood in Urine
- Foamy or cloudy urine
Types of kidney function tests
Kidney function tests give insights into the levels of Electrolytes, Albumin, Creatinine, BUN, etc.
- Urine test analysis
A urine test is also called a urinalysis. It is a broad spectrum that tests many factors in urine. These are:
- Protein level – Higher protein level in urine indicates different diseases such as heart disease. Low levels of protein in urine are desirable. Proteins such as Albumin are the main markers in this test. Dehydration also causes high protein in the urine.
- Glucose level– Glucose levels are the leading indicator of diabetes. If the sugar levels are high, they would be high in urine too. It may require the use of medications or insulin after a discussion with the doctor.
- pH level – pH level indicates whether the acid is present in the urine. As discussed earlier, one of the kidney functions is to remove acid from the body. If acid is present in urine, kidneys are not functioning correctly or are overloaded. Too low a pH indicates diabetes.
- Bilirubin level – Bilirubin is found in the liver. Bilirubin is the main marker for tests for Jaundice. If a high level of Bilirubin is present, it indicates liver disorders.
- Nitrite level – Nitrite indicates Urinary Tract Infection(UTI). Additional tests are required if your doctor suspects UTI.
- Specific gravity – it shows the presence of all the chemicals in urine. The concentration of these chemicals indicates kidney health.
- Creatinine test
Creatinine is tested in the blood. If the creatinine test is positive, it means the presence of creatine, a chemical released on muscle breakdown. The creatinine level should be from 0.6 to 1.2 in men mg/dL. Normal creatine levels in women are 0.5 to 1.1 mg/dL.
- Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
Urea nitrogen is a waste produced in the liver when it synthesizes proteins. If blood urea nitrogen levels are high, it indicates kidney and liver function problems. When the levels of BUN are higher than 50 mg/dL, they show a problem.
The procedure of the kidney function test
The procedure of the test involves a blood sample and a urine sample.
- Blood sample procedure
A pathologist at the lab will tie a tourniquet on your upper arm, just above the elbow. The pathologist will tell you to make a tight fist from which a blood sample is required. The pathologist will rub a cotton ball dipped in an antiseptic and insert a needle. After pulling the needle out, the blood will be collected in a vial and the sample is sent to the lab for testing.
- Urine Sample Collection
A clean and one-time-use collection bottle is given to the patient. The patient provides the urine sample to the lab.
Precautions for kidney function test
It is a panel of tests of blood and urine. All tests may not require overnight fasting, but some tests do. For example, a glucose level test is done after fasting for 10-12 hours for accurate results.
- No food for 10-12 hours before testing time
- Drink enough water before testing
- The doctor may discontinue certain medicines before the test.
Kidney function test results
Test results come in 2-3 days. Consult your doctor about the results.
Kidney function tests involve finding the levels of several markers. It is better to choose a trusted lab to get accurate results. Most labs highlight the values which are lower or higher than acceptable values. Consulting your doctor would be best in this scenario as a doctor will explain the values in the results. Self-analysis of lab results can lead to dangerous misinterpretations. The doctor may start medicines or suggest lifestyle changes.