Unlike many other diseases, the symptoms of early-stage kidney disease are not always apparent. The only way to determine if your kidneys are working fine or not is to get yourself tested.
Diagnostic methods for kidney disease
First, the doctor will examine the symptoms while going through your medical history – whether you have high blood pressure or are taking medications that might have adverse effects on your kidneys. He may also ask if you have a family history of kidney disease.
Your doctor will then use the following methods to check for kidney ailments –
Blood test for Glomeruli Filtrate Rate (GFR)
The doctor will conduct a blood test to check how well your kidneys are filtering blood. It typically measures the level of urea and creatinine in the blood. A GFR measure of 60 or more is considered normal, while a GFR below 60 may indicate a kidney disorder. Furthermore, a GFR of 15 or below may mean kidney failure. Most people in this stage require a kidney transplant or dialysis to live.
Urine test for Albumin
Albumin is a type of protein that is found in the blood. If your kidneys are healthy and fine, it will not let albumin slip into your urine. However, a diseased kidney allows albumin to leak into the urine – a condition known as albuminuria.
A healthcare provider may use the following methods to check for albumin in urine –
Dipstick Test – A sample of urine is collected in a container in a lab or clinic. The healthcare provider then places a dipstick – a chemically treated strip of paper – into the collected urine. If there are traces of albumin in the urine, then the dipstick will change its colour.
UACR or Urine Albumin-to-Creatinine Ratio – The test compares and measures the amount of creatinine with the quantity of albumin in your urine. The doctor uses UACR to evaluate how much albumin would flow into your urine over a span of 24 hours. A UACR measure of 30mg/g or below is considered normal. A measure beyond that may indicate kidney ailment.
If you suspect a kidney disease, measuring albumin in urine would confirm the diagnosis and it will help your doctor to determine which treatment approach works best for you. Get yourself checked every year if you have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or a family history of chronic kidney disease. The sooner you detect the ailment, the sooner you can begin with the treatment to protect your health.