What is Kidney Function Test (KFT)?
You have two kidneys on either side of the spine, approximately each being the size of a human fist. The kidneys are positioned posterior to the abdomen and right below the rib cage. This essential organ helps make us healthy. Out of many functions they do for us, the foremost is the filtration of waste materials from the blood and expelling that out of the body as urine. The kidneys also control the fluid and electrolytes or minerals in the body. Additionally, they are up in the production of:
- vitamin D
- red blood cells
- hormones that regulate blood pressure
If your healthcare team feels your kidneys are not working as intended, they may call for kidney function tests. The two most important tests, blood, and urine tests, can diagnose problems in your kidneys.
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You may need kidney function tests in other conditions as well, for instance, if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Both conditions contribute to the development of kidney disease, so monitoring is essential.
Symptoms of kidney problems
Your doctor will ask for KFT only to diagnose you for CKD, and this happens only when you experience signs of problems with your kidneys. They may include:
- high blood pressure
- blood in the urine
- foul smell in the urine
- frequent urges to urinate
- difficulty beginning urination
- swelling of the hands and feet due to a buildup of fluids in the body
- nausea and vomiting
- poor concentration
- low appetite than normal
- weight loss
- bone and mineral disorder
- chest pain
A single sign cannot help you know how your kidneys are working. However, if you have two or more signs co-occurring, you need to get yourself tested. Kidney function tests can help determine the reason for falling health of the kidneys.
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Types of kidney function tests
To test your kidney, the doctor will begin with a series of tests that can help estimate the glomerular filtration rate. GFR is a test to examine how well or efficiently your kidneys are clearing waste from the body.
A urinalysis checks for the presence of molecules of protein and blood in the urine. For a variety of reasons, one can notice protein in the urine. The key to knowing this is to notice how your urine appears. Perhaps, at times protein can be witnessed in the urine on account of infections or due to heavy physical workouts. Your doctor will order urinalysis repeatedly after weeks to check if the disease is progressing or stable.
To begin with the test, your doctor may ask you for a urine sample which is collected for a 24-hour. This is a way to see how fastly kidneys are eliminating creatinine from the body. Creatinine is one of the wastes found in the bloodstream as a byproduct of muscle tissue.
Serum creatinine test
The serum creatinine is yet another test to know how much creatinine is present in the blood at any point in time. It is the kidneys that filter creatinine from the blood and send them to the urine. In case if your blood creatinine range is significantly high, it denotes problems in the kidney’s filters.
Normal range of creatinine
Creatinine levels that are higher than 1.2 mg/dL for women and 1.4 mg/dL for men are signs of a kidney problem.
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Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
The blood urea nitrogen test checks for waste products in the blood. Blood urea nitrogen test measures the amount of urea nitrogen. It is the liver that produces urea as a waste product of the digestion of protein. Later on, it is transported to the kidneys for excretion during the filtration process.
However, elevated BUN levels can also point towards other conditions as well. Consuming too many medications, for instance, aspirin, and some sorts of antibiotics, can also result in increased BUN levels. If you are taking any such medications, tell your doctor about the same. You may be asked to stop the consumption of these drugs for a few days before the test is done.
Normal range of BUN:
The adequate BUN level is between 7 and 20 mg/dL. A number higher than this alludes to several different health crises.
Glomerular filtration rate tells about the efficacy of the kidneys in filtering the waste. GFR is calculated based on several factors, such as:
GFR level less than 60 mm/minute is a sign that your kidneys are not working well.
How the tests are performed
Kidney function tests or KFT are done using a 24-hour urine sample and a blood test.
24-hour urine sample
Using a 24-hour urine test, creatinine clearance is measured. It gives an idea of how much creatinine your body is expelling over 24-hours. You are supposed to urinate normally for the first time, and for the rest of the day and night, you are expected to urinate in a special container. On the next morning, you shall urinate (first urine) into the container, and this will complete a 24-hour urine collection process.
For BUN, serum creatinine, and GFR tests, blood samples are taken in a lab for laboratory evaluation.
If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease, your doctor may focus on the underlying cause of the disease. Your doctor may put you on blood pressure medications if the tests show hypertension is the cause of CKD. Along with medications, you are required to bring some hefty changes in your lifestyle and diet.
If you have diabetes, your doctor may want you to consult an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist is a doctor that specializes in metabolic diseases and helps manage the blood sugar level wisely.
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If the cause is some other chronic or acute condition, you may be given treatment accordingly. For instance, excessive use of painkillers, kidney stones, inflammation, immune disorders also put your kidneys at risk. Based on the underlying condition, your doctor may suggest the required treatment.
Learn that Ayurveda works best in such cases. It aims to wave off the root cause of the problem and stands out with measures to improve overall health, Abnormal tests also signify that you need to get kidney function tests done frequently.