It may be difficult to identify whether you have kidney-related ailments since the symptoms often do not show very early on. Often, by the time patients begin to notice the signs and symptoms of the disease, kidney disease has already set in. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to your body and even minor changes in its functioning if:
- You have a family history of kidney ailments
- You notice any changes in your urinary habits
- You have been on a medication that is likely to cause kidney problems
- You have had heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes for a few years1,2
What are some helpful tests?
There are a series of tests that are usually performed to screen for kidney disorders. However, prior to running these tests, a complete personal and family history of the patient may be checked, along with getting a thorough understanding of their lifestyle and symptoms. This is usually followed by a physical examination for problems related to the heart or blood. Finally, a simple neurological examination may also be done.2
Most tests for CKD are done, either to check the levels of certain salts and substances in the blood or urine. Some of them check if the patient suffers from CKD, while the rest assess for kidney damage. Here are some of the commonly conducted tests for CKD:
- GFR test: Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a blood test that checks the efficiency of the kidneys and tells us how much blood they can filter each minute. Reports explain if the kidney function is within the normal range, and whether the patient is at risk of kidney disease or kidney failure. This is calculated based on various parameters like body size, sex, and age.3 While it is difficult to increase GFR levels, doctors can prescribe measures to ensure the levels do not drop further.
- Creatinine test: The test checks for levels of creatinine in the body. High levels of creatinine are indicators of a more severe form of kidney disorder.1
- Albumin test: This test is conducted on the urine as well as the blood. A healthy individual is unlikely to have albumin in the urine since the kidneys do not allow it to pass into the urine. Tests may also be ordered to compare albumin and creatinine ratio in the urine to determine whether you have kidney disease and your treatment method. Serum albumin tests are done to assess the protein level in the body if your doctor suspects malnutrition.1,3
Tests are not conducted just to check whether an individual has CKD. They are also regularly conducted to monitor those who already have CKD and assess the efficacy of their treatment. These tests can help in the following ways:
- A regular GFR test can give information about the effectiveness of the patient’s medication and if they are responding well to the treatment.
- Albumin levels in the urine also stabilise or reduce if the treatment is working well.
Regular tests are important to detect CKD early on and take necessary action well in time to prevent worsening of the disease.3
So, don’t shy away from that needle prick for your annual check-up. Buckle up and seize the reins to your health!
- Chronic kidney disease tests & diagnosis [Internet]. [updated 2016 Oct 31; cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/tests-diagnosis
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Chronic kidney disease [Internet]. [updated 2019 Aug 15; cited 2019 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-kidney-disease/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354527
- Baumgarten M, Gehr T. Chronic kidney disease: detection and evaluation. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Nov 15;84(10):1138-48. Available from: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/1115/p1138.html