U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Testing for Kidney Disease

Early kidney disease usually does not have signs (a change in your body) or symptoms (a change in how you feel). Testing is the only way to know how your kidneys are doing. It is important for you to get checked for kidney disease if you have the key risk factors – diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure. 

Two tests are needed to check for kidney disease.

1. A blood test checks your GFR, which tells how well your kidneys are filtering. GFR stands for glomerular (glow-MAIR-you-lure) filtration rate.

2. A urine test checks for albumin in your urine. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.A doctor takes a woman's blood pressure

It is also important to have your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure can be a sign of kidney disease. Keep your blood pressure at or below the target set by your health care provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg.

The sooner you know you have kidney disease, the sooner you can get treatment to help delay or prevent kidney failure. If you have diabetes, get checked every year. If you have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, talk to your provider about how often you should be tested.

Videos

Videos

How do you check for kidney disease?
How do you check for kidney disease? (0:45)

A doctor explains the two tests for chronic kidney disease (CKD): blood test, which checks your Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), and a urine test.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease? Approach 1
What are the symptoms of kidney disease? Approach 1 (0:34)

A doctor explains the importance of testing for kidney disease, which is also known as a "silent disease" because there are often no physical symptoms.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease? Approach 2
What are the symptoms of kidney disease? Approach 2 (0:23)

A doctor explains that for many people there are no symptoms of kidney disease, which is why testing is important.

Additional Reading

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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

This information is not copyrighted. The NIDDK encourages people to share this content freely.


September 17, 2014​​

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