The kidneys are organs that filter toxins from the blood and ensure that it maintains the correct balance of fluids and nutrients. Almost every person has two of these organs but it is possible to live a healthy life with only one kidney. The kidneys are located just below the ribs around the lower middle portion of the back. Every single day the kidneys will process around 180 litres blood, and will usually excrete around 1 litre of waste. This waste is passed through the ureters and on to the bladder, where it is eliminated as urine. There is many a kidney function test that can keep an eye on this process if any kidney disease is suspected.
When the body takes the nutrients from the food you eat, it sends all the waste into the blood stream. If the kidneys do not filter the blood, it would just accumulate all the waste and end up damaging the body. In the medical field, professionals refer to kidney function as renal function. The use of a kidney function test allows a medical provider to know how efficiently the kidneys are operating. 100% function is the healthiest state for the kidneys to be in, although a decline of up to 40% is barely noticeable, and the kidneys are still able to effectively remove waste from the blood in this state.
Doctors use a test called an eGFR, or estimated glomerular filtration rate to calculate renal function. A blood sample is used, making this procedure a more accurate kidney function test. A greatly reduced renal function of 25% or less can indicate a very serious kidney condition. Once renal function falls below 15%, the patient must either undergo dialysis, which is an artificial filtering of the blood, or they must receive a kidney transplant.
The problem with kidney disease is that often it will not manifest any symptoms initially. Once symptoms do appear the damage to the kidneys can be quite advanced. Because of this, doctors need to come across the condition through regular urine and blood tests to discover the problem early. Doctors recommend that people regularly undergo a kidney function test to indicate the presence of damage; there are three common types:
Kidney Function Test #1 – Blood pressure test: Elevated blood pressure can be one of the contributing factors of kidney disease. It may also indicate that the kidneys are impaired in some way already. Blood pressure should ideally be at or below 120/80, and if it isn’t certain lifestyle changes and medication may be necessary.
Kidney Function Test #2 – Urine is checked for albumin or protein: Normally the filtration process will leave protein in the blood while other chemicals are filtered out. With impaired renal function, the kidneys may begin to filter a form of protein that they shouldn’t, called albumin. A doctor can easily perform an albumin check with a urine sample.
Kidney Function Test #3 – eGFR test: The estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate is one the more widely used kidney function test. It measures the amount of creatinine in the blood, specifically measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood. The GFR also takes into account factors such as a patient’s age and gender. A GFR test consists of an injection, followed by a urine sample 24 hours later, to detect how much of the test chemical has managed to pass through the kidneys.
As you can see the kidneys are essential organs to life. It is easy to detect early kidney damage with the use a kidney function test so that treatment can be introduced early to prevent further damage to the kidneys.