Your Kidneys and How They Work
How Will My Doctor Detect Kidney Disease? continued...
Normal blood contains 7 to 20 milligrams of
urea per deciliter of blood. If your BUN is more than 20 mg/dl, your kidneys
may not be working at full strength. Other possible causes of an elevated BUN
include dehydration and heart failure.
Healthy kidneys take wastes out of the
blood but leave in protein. Impaired kidneys may fail to separate the protein
from the wastes. Proteinuria means protein in the urine, and it is a sign of
poor kidney function. If your urine makes foam in the toilet, it may contain
high levels of protein. Your doctor may test for protein using a dipstick in a
small sample of your urine taken in the doctor's office. The color of the
dipstick indicates the presence or absence of proteinuria. For a more precise
measurement, you may need to collect urine for 24 hours.
If blood and urine
tests indicate reduced kidney function, your doctor may recommend additional
tests to help identify the cause of the problem. Renal imaging (taking pictures
of the kidneys) methods include ultrasound, computed tomography (CAT scan), and
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tools are most helpful in finding
unusual growths or blockages to the flow of urine.
Renal biopsy. Your doctor may want
to see a tiny piece of your kidney tissue under a microscope. To obtain this
tissue sample, the doctor will perform a renal biopsy -- a hospital procedure
in which the doctor inserts a needle through your skin into the back of the
kidney. The needle retrieves a strand of tissue about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch
long. You will lie prone (on your stomach) on a table and will receive local
anesthetic to numb the skin. The sample tissue will help the doctor identify
problems at the cellular level.
What Can I Do About Kidney Disease?
Unfortunately, kidney disease cannot be
cured. But if you are in the early stages of a kidney disease, you may be able
to make your kidneys last longer by taking certain steps.
If you have diabetes, watch your blood
sugar closely to keep it under control. Consult your doctor for the latest in
Have your blood pressure checked
regularly. Talk with your doctor about the best medicine to keep your blood
pressure under control.
Avoid pain pills that may make your kidney
disease worse. Check with your doctor before taking any medicine.