See your GP if you have persistent symptoms of CKD. They can look for other possible causes and arrange tests if necessary.
But as kidney disease often has no symptoms in the early stages, some people at a higher risk should ideally be tested regularly.
Regular testing is recommended for people with:
- high blood pressure
- acute kidney injury– sudden damage to the kidneys that causes them to stop working properly
- cardiovascular disease– conditions that affect the heart, arteries and veins, such as coronary heart disease or heart failure
- other conditions that can affect the kidneys – such as kidney stones, an enlarged prostate or lupus
- a family history of advanced CKD or an inherited kidney disease
- protein or blood in their urine where there’s no known cause
- People taking long-term medications that can affect the kidneys, such as lithium, omeprazole or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), should also be tested regularly.
Talk to your GP if you think you may need regular testing for kidney disease.
Tests for CKD
The main test for kidney disease is a blood test that’s used to work out how well your kidneys are working. The test measures the levels of a waste product called creatinine in your blood.
Using this result, a calculation that takes into account your age, gender and ethnic group is then done to work out how many milliliters of waste your kidneys are able to filter in a minute.
This measurement is known as your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
Healthy kidneys should be able to filter more than 90ml/min. You may have kidney disease if your result is lower than this.
Urine tests are also usually carried out to:
- check the levels of substances called albumin and creatinine in your urine – known as the albumin: creatinine ratio, or ACR
- check for blood or protein in your urine
Alongside your eGFR measurement, these tests can help give a more accurate picture of how well your kidneys are working.
Sometimes other tests are also used to assess the level of damage to your kidneys.
These may include:
- an ultrasound scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or computerised tomography (CT) scan – to see what the kidneys look like and check whether there are any blockages
- a kidney biopsy– a small sample of kidney tissue is removed using a needle so the cells can be examined under a microscope for signs of damage