Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when kidney nephrons are damaged. Each kidney has about a million tiny filters called nephrons. A nephron is made up of a glomerulus and tubules. The nephrons filter blood. When they become damaged, the kidney becomes less efficient. Over time, as fewer nephrons are available to clean the blood, the kidneys are diseased and less able to keep the body healthy.
Like diabetes and high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease is called a “silent killer” because there are few symptoms and by the time individuals realize they have a problem, much damage has already been done.
A blood or urine test can tell you how well your kidneys are functioning.
However, there are two tests that can tell you how well your kidneys are functioning. They may be included in the your annual physical evaluation, or you can ask your physician to do them. One is a urine test called ACR (albumin-to-creatinine ratio), which tells how much protein is in your urine. Usually protein is in the blood, and when it is in the urine, it may be a sign of early kidney disease.
The other is a blood test and it tells how much creatinine, a waste product that comes from muscle tissue, is in your blood. From that test, your GFR (glomerular filtration rate) can be estimated which includes your age, race, and sex.
As your kidney function declines, waste products and excess fluid build up in the blood and can make you feel sick.