How do I know
if I have kidney disease?
The only way to know if you have kidney disease is to get checked by your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney disease, you need to get checked. Two simple steps can detect kidney disease.
Step 1: A simple blood test.
You will have a blood test to see how much of a waste product called creatinine is in your blood. This number, along with your age, race, and gender are used to estimate your GFR. GFR stands for glomerular (glow-MAIR-you-lure) filtration rate. Your GFR number tells you how well your kidneys are working to filter out wastes and extra fluid from your body.
GFR is reported as a number.
- A GFR of 60 or higher is in the normal range.
- A GFR below 60 may mean you have kidney disease.
- A GFR of 15 or lower means your kidneys are failing.
Step 2: A simple urine test.
You will have a urine test to see if there is protein called albumin (al-BYOO-min) in your urine. A healthy kidney does not let albumin pass into the urine. A damaged kidney lets some albumin pass into the urine. The less albumin you have in your urine the better.
What happens next?
If you have an abnormal urine albumin level or a low GFR number, your doctor will order more tests to see what might be causing these results. Further testing and evaluation are very important because:
- Your kidney problem may be temporary or reversible. For example, you may have an infection or something blocking your urine flow, which makes it hard for your kidneys to do their job. If this is found early and treated promptly, your kidney function may return to its normal level. It’s important to continue getting your kidneys checked at least every year.
If you are diagnosed with chronic (long lasting) kidney disease, there are many things you and your doctor can do to keep it from getting worse. Talk with your doctor about ways to manage your disease. Ask about:
- Medicines you should take
- Medicines to avoid
- Changes to your diet
- Other behavior or lifestyle changes
- Whether your kidney disease is likely to get worse
- What you can do to slow or stop it from getting worse