Your doctor can check the health of your kidneys by measuring the amount of protein in your urine. In addition, she can tell how well your kidneys are working with a simple blood test.

Because people with high blood pressure are at increased risk for developing chronic kidney disease, they should be tested for kidney disease. These tests should include the test for protein in the urine. Protein is an important building block in your body. When your kidneys are working properly, they help keep protein in the body. However, when the kidneys are damaged, protein leaks into the urine. Two positive tests for protein over several weeks is called persistent protein in the urine. This is an early sign of chronic kidney disease.

Your doctor will also order a blood test for creatinine, a waste product from muscle activity. The results of this test can be used to estimate how much kidney function you have.

Signs and symptoms of kidney failure may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Changes in urine output
  • Decreased mental alertness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of the feet and ankles
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Chest pain, if fluid accumulates around the lining of the heart
  • Shortness of breath, if fluid accumulates in the lungs
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) that’s difficult to control

These signs and symptoms are often caused by other illnesses as well so it might be difficult to know exactly what is going on. In addition, because your kidneys are able to compensate for lost function, symptoms of kidney failure may not appear until damage has already occurred.

Talk to your doctor about kidney disease if you’re having these symptoms, if you have a history of high blood pressure, or if a family member has kidney disease. There are treatments for it!

— Source: National Kidney Foundation/Mayo Clinic


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