A to Z of Kidney Function Tests

To understand kidney function tests(otherwise known as a renal panel), it is imperative to understand the functions of the kidneys. The kidneys work to filter the blood and expel unwanted waste out of the bloodstream and then they exit the body. Kidneys are also known to remove excess water from the human body, facilitating in regulating blood pressure and fluid balance of the body.

Kidney Function, Kidney Function Tests

All happens when the kidneys are in good shape. When they are functioning well, there is a low quantity of unwanted waste present in the body. When the levels of such waste in the blood start to climb up, they indicate that the kidneys are not functioning as well as they should.

As the name suggests, kidney function tests help measure whether the kidneys are in good working condition. Most of these kidney or liver blood tests check how well the kidneys are able to clear waste from the body. The test may involve either a blood test, a 24-hour urine sample test, or both. You can expect to obtain the test results on the same day or it could take a few days as well.

If you have confusion before taking the test and want to gather some information about how this test works, you are in the right place. Keep on reading to learn more. Before going further into the topic, let us know what the test is all about.

Symptoms that you may have kidney problems

Symptoms that could indicate a problem with your kidneys are:

  • Blood in the urine
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent urges to pee
  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Painful urination
  • Swelling of the hands and feet could also occur due to a buildup of fluids

A single symptom may not indicate anything serious. However, if occurring simultaneously, in combination with other symptoms could suggest that your kidneys are not working properly. This is when you need to do a kidney function test to determine the reason.

What are Kidney Function Tests?

Private kidney function tests involve urine or blood tests that help gauge how well your kidneys are functioning. They are helpful in measuring glomerular filtration rate or GFR. It evaluates how efficiently your kidneys clear the waste from the system.

What Is the Function of Kidneys in Our Body?

The kidneys are part of our urinary system. There are two kidneys that lie in the back of the abdomen below your ribcage. They help your body filter waste materials with urine. The kidneys in our bodies are essential for creating:

  • Hormones that maintain the body’s blood pressure
  • Red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body
  • Vitamin D that maintains our bone and muscle health

[H2] Why Might You need a Kidney Function Test?

Some conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure caused by hypertension tend to affect the natural function of the kidneys. If you are diagnosed with any of these conditions, your doctor may use kidney function tests to monitor the nature of these conditions.

Sometimes, you may need a kidney function test if you experience symptoms that indicate possible kidney concerns. These symptoms will include:

  • Blood in your urine, which is also known as hematuria
  • Painful urination or dysuria
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Issues while trying to pee

What Are the Types of Kidney Function Tests?

Your doctor may need one or a few different types of kidney function tests. You may have blood tests for kidney function, such as:

Blood urea nitrogen test or BUN measures nitrogen (obtained after protein breakdown) in the circulatory system (blood).

Estimated GFR or eGFR is conducted to calculate filtration rates depending on the protein levels, gender, age, size, and race.

Serum creatinine looks for the accumulation of creatinine, a waste product obtained from the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Your doctor may also need 24-hour urine tests, which include:

  • Microalbuminuria looks for a specific protein known as albumin.
  • Urinalysis helps to gauge your urine to check the condition of blood, protein levels and kidney function.

During a Kidney Urine Test- What to Expect?

If you wish, you can do a 24-hour urine test at your home. For a 24-hour urine test, your doctor will provide you with a container to collect the urine sample. On the day of the kidney test:

  • You need to urinate in the toilet as usual once you wake up in the morning.
  • For the rest of that day, you will need to urinate in a container.
  • On day two, you will have to pee in the container after waking up in the morning.
  • After that, you will need to send the urine sample off to the laboratory or a doctor’s office.

A Kidney Function Test Involves

To take the test, you will need to visit your healthcare provider or the laboratory to obtain a blood sample. The technician then uses a small needle and test tube to obtain the blood sample.

What to Expect After a Kidney Test?

Private liver function tests are usually simple. They do not cause any side effects. However, after taking the blood test, some may experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Bruising
  • Fatigue

Blood and urine tests usually do not end up causing pain or any other complications to worry about. You will want to call your healthcare provider if you experience fatigue, pain, or other symptoms that do not go away after a certain point of time.

When Should You Expect to Know the Results of a Kidney Function Test?

How soon you obtain the blood test results can vary. Sometimes, your doctor’s provider discusses the results of your kidney test on the same day. Or he or she may send the sample to a laboratory. In that case, you may receive results after a few days.

What do the kidney test results mean?

Kidney test results can help indicate whether your kidneys are working well or not. Most kidney function tests look for two major measurements, including:

  • A GFR of less than 60 means you have kidney disease.
  • A urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio or UACR of more than 30 milligrams/gram could also be a warning sign of kidney issues.

What if the test results indicate early kidney disease?

If the kidney test results indicate unsatisfactory results, your doctor will follow up with you about kidney your treatment options. You may have to take medications to manage your blood pressure.

Or you may want to follow up with a nephrologist or a kidney specialist.

If the test results are atypical, your doctor will want to order more frequent kidney function tests in the future. Regular testing helps your healthcare provider to track your health and any other underlying conditions.


Your healthcare provider will focus on treating the underlying condition first if the tests indicate early kidney disease. He or she will prescribe medicines to control your blood pressure if the results suggest hypertension. They will also advise you to modify your lifestyle and dietary habits.

If you have diabetes, your doctor may want you to refer an endocrinologist. They specialize in metabolic diseases and can ensure you have the best blood glucose control.

If there are other underlying causes of your abnormal kidney function tests, your doctor will take measures to manage those disorders.

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