If a person is suffering from chronic kidney disease or suspects kidney damage, albumin home test kits and smartphone-enabled home urinalysis device are available to check for kidney function at home.
- Simple urine test: Usually, albumin is not present in urine. This test kit is convenient and can accurately diagnose albuminuria (presence of albumin in the urine), which is a sign of kidney damage. A person may keep a record of the extent of albuminuria and plan a visit to the doctor accordingly.
- Smartphone-enabled home urinalysis device or dip.io test: This enables users to conduct a urinalysis test at home and share the results with their doctors. A person may get more detailed information on https://healthy.io/product/
- Clinical symptoms: Such as urine color, presence of blood, or foul odor, and generalized body edema may be monitored along with regular blood pressure charting.
Kidneys are a pair of fist-sized, bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine below the rib cage.
8 major functions of the kidney
- Regulation of electrolytes, such as salt, potassium, and acid content
- Excretion of waste products
- Removal of excess fluid to maintain fluid-electrolyte balance
- Removal of drugs
- Maintain a balance of chemicals
- Release hormones to regulate blood pressure
- Production of the active form of vitamin D
- Controls red blood cell production
Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, and about 37 million Americans are estimated to have kidney disease. However, many of the cases are often ignored and remain unnoticed or undiagnosed, or the symptoms appear at a very late stage of the disease.
If a person is older than 60 years or at risk for kidney disease due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of kidney failure, it is essential to visit a doctor and analyze kidney functions on an annual basis.
17 warning signs of kidney problems
There are several physical signs and symptoms of kidney disease, which include:
- Extreme tiredness, weakness, or trouble concentrating
- Dry and itchy skin
- Increased frequency or urgency to urinate
- Difficulty or pain while passing urine
- Foamy or frothy urine
- Puffiness around the eyes or swollen face
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Loss or lack of appetite
- Muscle cramps
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Feeling cold
- Shortness of breath even after a little exertion
- Feeling faint and dizzy
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Bad breath (ammonia breath)
- Nausea, vomiting, or stomach upset
11 causes of kidney disease
Other conditions that can affect the kidneys are:
- People older than 60 years are at a higher risk
- Family history of kidney disease
- Black, Native American, or Asian American ethnicities
- Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Recurrent kidney infections
- Glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the tiny filters in the kidneys called glomeruli)
- Inherited diseases, such as polycystic kidney disease (a genetic disorder that causes many fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys)
- Trauma or injuries
- Lupus (an autoimmune disease)
- Obstructive diseases, such as kidney stones, prostate enlargement, and tumors
How is kidney disease diagnosed?
The following tests are used to diagnose kidney diseases:
- Urine test: To check for the presence of protein or blood in the urine.
- Blood tests:
- Serum creatinine: According to the National Kidney Foundation, a creatinine level higher than 1.2 mg/dL for women and 1.4 mg/dL for men is a sign of a kidney disorder.
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): Normal blood levels should be between 6 and 20 mg/dL. A value higher than this indicates a kidney problem.
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) calculation: The doctor can calculate it from the blood creatinine, age, ethnicity, gender, and other factors.
- Ultrasound or computed tomography scan: Detects problems in the structure of the kidneys and the urinary tract.
- Kidney biopsy: A sample of kidney tissue is sent to a laboratory to be visualized under a microscope.
How can you prevent getting kidney disease?
A person can prevent kidney diseases by adopting the following measures:
- Consume a healthy and balanced diet: Eat a low-sodium and low-fat diet, including fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Regular exercise: Increase physical activity and try to be active for at least 30 minutes on most of the days.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid or quit smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Control diabetes, blood pressure, and heart disease
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National Kidney Foundation. Using a Home Test Kit and Smartphone to Test for Kidney Disease. https://www.kidney.org/news/using-home-test-kit-and-smartphone-to-test-kidney-disease
University of Michigan Health System. Home Test for Protein in Urine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw113012
National Kidney Foundation. 10 Signs You May Have Kidney Disease. https://www.kidney.org/news/ekidney/august14/10_Signs_You_May_Have_Kidney_Disease
Khatri M. Warning Signs of Kidney Problems. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-kidney-warning-signs
National Kidney Foundation. CKD Symptoms and Causes. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/about-chronic-kidney-disease
National Kidney Foundation. How Your Kidneys Work. https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/howkidneyswrk
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