Kidney function self-test


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What does the kidney function self-test do?

As soon as the kidneys are working less well, the blood is “poisoned”. This is bad for the heart and blood vessels. Often it is only noted that the kidneys do not properly perform their cleaning function when only less than 30 percent of kidney function is left. Only then will complications arise. If renal function continues to deteriorate, renal dialysis or even a kidney transplant may be required.

The measurement of albumin (a type of protein) is a good and relatively easy way to detect chronic kidney damage at an early stage.


For whom is the kidney function test suitable?

People with diabetes or high blood pressure are at greater risk for kidney damage than others. Aging, too salty food and obesity also increase the risk of kidney damage. Albumin is normally present in urine in very small quantities. A high albumin level indicates a failure of the renal filter function. People with elevated levels of albumin in urine have a faster decline in their kidney function and an increased risk of kidney failure.


How does the kidney function self-test work?

The kidneys filter the blood to remove impurities. When the kidneys are functioning normally, albumin is not present in the urine or only in very low concentrations. The renal function test (albumin) is a rapid test for the qualitative determination of albumin in urine. In less than 10 minutes it is possible to detect abnormal albumin levels in the urine. High levels of glucose and a history of diabetes or hypertension are factors that promote urinary excretion of albumin.


Why should I do a kidney function test?

Many patients are unaware that they have chronic kidney damage, while about 10% of the population in western countries suffer from it. Serious health risks such as cardiovascular disease, the need for dialysis or transplantation, and premature death can arise. Early detection and initiation of treatment of patients with chronic kidney damage can prevent these risks.

If the self-test indicates that there is too much albumin in the urine, it is advisable to consult a doctor if you have a condition that may be associated with kidney problems: high blood pressure, diabetes, urinary tract infections or chronic inflammatory diseases.

The kidneys are two-paired organs on either side of the spine at about the level of the lower ribs.

Each healthy kidney is about 9 to 12 inches long, about 4 to 6 inches wide, and about 3 to about 5 inches thick, depending on the size of the human body. Together, the two kidneys weigh only about 300 g. The surface of healthy kidneys is usually smooth. Because they perform many tasks for the body, they are well supplied with blood. About 1,800 liters of blood flow through the kidneys every day. These are the 3 tasks of the kidneys:


Excretion of toxic substances

The kidneys remove toxins from the body, such as breakdown products of protein metabolism. The blood is filtered through small pores in the blood vessels of the kidney bodies. The pores allow only smaller molecules, but no proteins or even blood cells to pass. Protein in the urine is therefore a sign of kidney disease, at least when more than 0.2 grams are excreted per day.

After filtration, the kidneys remove 99% of the water from the filtered urine in the tubes. The body thus holds 150 liters of the originally filtered urine along with other important soluble blood components such as sugars and salts. When the kidneys are no longer fully functional, they may not be able to extract enough water from the primary filtered urine. Patients with renal insufficiency sometimes develop more urine at the beginning of the disease than normal and therefore need to empty the bladder more often.


Regulation of water and electrolyte balance and acid-base balance

The kidneys regulate the water and electrolyte balance and allow the body to excrete or retain excess fluid or electrolytes. You adjust the amount of urine to the amount of drinking and thus compensate for the water balance of the body. Only in quantities of more than 10-20 liters per day and less than 0.5 liters, the water balance is imbalanced. The kidneys can raise or lower blood pressure through the salt and water balance. In addition, they regulate the pH in the blood, so that the blood does not become “sour” or “alkaline”. The kidneys thus determine how many acids and bases are present in the body.


Hormone production

The kidneys produce vital signaling molecules. For example, they produce erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Therefore, people with kidney disease often suffer from anemia and feel tired and weak. In addition, certain kidney cells are an important hormone for the regulation of blood pressure, renin. Another hormone that forms in the kidney is the “active form” of vitamin D3, calcitriol, which increases the absorption of calcium and phosphate in the gut and is also important for the immune system.


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