Kidneys are essential for good health. Kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage, one each on both sides of our spine. Kidneys serve a few very important tasks in our body. They keep a balance of water and minerals in our blood as well as remove waste from the blood after metabolism. Also, kidneys help to manage our blood pressure and play a vital role in making red blood cells. Along with these, kidneys help in making an active form of vitamin D, required for healthy bones and a few other things.
For maintaining a healthy body, it is very important to ensure that our kidneys are functioning normally. As we age, our kidneys start working less well, which is pretty normal. But there are few other factors that also affect our kidneys’ normal functioning. This includes certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, long term use of certain medicines, family history of kidney failure, not drinking enough water, missing out on proper sleep, smoking, alcohol abuse, etc. It is not always possible to find out what actually has caused someone’s kidneys to not working normally.
Kidney test is the only way to find out if the kidneys are doing normally or not. There is a set of tests, which help to assess our kidney health by checking certain parameters. Normally kidney diseases do not show any symptoms in the early stage. It is only through kidney test, we can detect and diagnose any kidney problems. Also, there are few risk factors such as having diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of kidney problems, etc. that increase the risk of kidney disease. Hence, kidney test is very important to find out how well your kidneys are functioning. Kidney test requires urine and blood samples to measure different aspects of kidney functioning. The tests,which are conducted under kidney test are –
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) Test – The blood urea nitrogen test is a way to check for the presence of waste products in our blood. The BUN test measures the amount of urea nitrogen in the blood. Elevated levels of urea nitrogen in the blood can be a sign that the kidneys are not working properly. A normal BUN level is between 7 and 20 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
Serum Creatinine Test – This is another test included in the panel of kidney test. Creatinine is basically a waste product, which is produced by our muscle activities. Usually, the kidneys are able to filter creatinine from the blood completely. Hence, a higher level of creatinine can be a sign of a kidney problem. A creatinine level of more than 1.2 in women and more than 1.4 in men can suggest that those kidneys are not working properly.
Calcium and Phosphorus Levels – Checking the level of these two important minerals is a vital part of the kidney test. Their levels can give a picture of how our kidneys are functioning. Kidneys play a vital role in maintaining the level of phosphorus in our blood. It removes extra phosphorus from the blood because excess levels of this mineral can damage our body. If the reports show higher levels of phosphorus, it can indicate a kidney problem. Measuring the calcium is also very important to find out whether or not the kidneys are doing well. If the kidneys are not working properly, the calcium levels in the blood can rise abnormally.
BUN/Serum Creatinine Ratio – The normal ratio of BUN to creatinine is usually between 10:1 and 20:1. If the ratio increases, it can indicate a condition, where there is a decrease in the blood flow to kidneys. This means the kidneys are not in their optimum health.
Sodium Levels – Kidney test also includes checking the levels of three major electrolytes in our body. They are sodium, potassium and chloride. Sodium levels, if found high in the kidney test, could indicate problems with kidney, because the body is unable to eliminate the excess sodium.
Potassium Levels – Potassium helps in many important bodily functions, such as digestion, maintaining water balance, etc. Abnormally high or low levels of potassium can be a symptom of kidney disease.
Chloride Levels – Chloride is one of the major electrolytes in our body that helps to maintain the blood pressure, proper blood volume, blood acidity and fluid balance in the cells. A high level of chloride can indicate kidney disease.
Along with these tests, there are few other tests as well which are conducted as part of a kidney test. They are – Urinary Microalbumin Test, Urinary Albumin/Creatinine Ratio, Uric Acid check, Urine Protein check, Creatinine Clearance Test, Glomerular filtration rate or GFR test, etc.
One of India’s most advanced diagnostic laboratory chain, Thyrocare Technologies Limited offer a very attractive package of kidney test, known as Advanced Renal Profile. The package includes tests to check 9 important parameters such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels, serum creatinine levels, BUN/serum creatinine ratio, phosphorus and calcium levels, uric acid levels, electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride) levels checked. This is a very affordable package for kidney test.
Why get Tested for Kidney Test
Our kidneys are responsible for performing a few vital bodily functions. Let’s have a quick look at some of them below –
* Kidneys help to remove excess water from our body as well as retain water when the body requires more. Kidneys are also responsible for maintaining electrolytes-water balance in the body.
* Maintaining the right balance of minerals in our blood is important. Sodium and potassium are two important minerals that our body requires to function properly. But, the amount of the minerals must be kept at a correct level. The kidneys help with removing the excess minerals through urine.
* Kidneys are responsible for removing waste products such as urea and creatinine from our body. Urea is produced by breaking down of protein, which comes from the food. Creatinine is produced as a waste product of regular muscle activities. If the kidneys are not functioning properly, the levels of these waste products increase in the blood.
* Kidneys also produce certain hormones. These hormones play important roles in certain bodily functions, such as regulating blood pressure, producing red blood cells, maintaining calcium balance in the body, etc.
* Kidneys can reabsorb important nutrients from the blood and transport them to where they are required. Also, kidneys reabsorb a few other products to help maintain a stable condition inside our body.
* The acceptable pH level of the human body is between 7.38 and 7.42. Outside this range, important proteins and enzymes can no longer function. The kidneys, together with lungs, help to keep a stable pH balance in the human body.
These were some of the most important functions performed by our kidneys. Without the kidney's ability to perform these tasks, the waste products would accumulate in our blood and could lead to something fatal. Hence, it is very important to maintain healthy kidneys. The best way to get our kidneys checked is by undergoing kidney test. Kidney test helps in assessing our kidney health and detecting whether or not there is any risk of developing any kidney disease. A thorough kidney test gives us the best chance to start treatment early for kidney disease and prevent things from going fatal.
When to get Tested for Kidney Test
Kidney disease doesn’t show any symptoms in an early stage. But as the condition worsens, you might be able to notice some signs, such as Nausea, Vomiting, Loss of appetite, Weakness, Problems with falling asleep, muscle twitches and cramps, Chest pain, Shortness of breath, Changes in urination, blood in urine, swelling of hands and feet, Frequent urges to urinate.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it is best to go and see your doctor immediately and seek his/her advice on whether to opt for a kidney test. If you have already been diagnosed with any kidney disease, then you must undergo a kidney test at regular intervals to check the progression of the disease and find out how the treatment is working.
Preparation for Kidney Test
Fasting for 8-12 hours is required. No other fluid, but only water is allowed. No strenuous exercise for 48 hours (to check creatinine levels). Don’t eat more than 225 gms of meat or other protein for 24 hours prior to the test (to check creatinine levels). Drink plenty of water if you are required to collect urine samples for 24 hours.
Most people fail to notice if their kidneys are working slightly less than normal because this doesn’t show any symptoms. Also, for most of the people with kidney problems, the condition remains stable for many years before it becomes lethal. Only a few people experience rapid worsening of the condition. Hence, the best way to determine your kidney health is to undergo kidney test. Regular kidney test is the best way to detect kidney problems early and start treatment immediately so that the situation remains under control.
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