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All you need to know about your kidneys and how to keep them healthy

Kidney Health

When we talk about our health, there is a tendency to focus on issues such as cardiovascular disease and liver disease. 

These are big, public health problems about which people are usually very aware, particularly with regards to the role that lifestyle factors like smoking, a poor diet, alcohol intake and lack of exercise have in causing these diseases. In contrast, the kidneys are often overlooked. However, kidney disease is actually very common with around 3 million people in the UK estimated to be suffering from it. Many of these people will have no idea that there is a problem because kidney disease often causes no symptoms until a very late stage. 

Where are the kidneys?

They are found around the back of your body, just above your waistline in the angle between your rib cage and your pelvis. They are about 10-12 cm in length and, as you might guess, they are the shape of a kidney bean. 

kidney location

What do they do?

They carry out many important functions. Perhaps their most notable function is the removal of waste products from the blood and the production of urine, but they are also involved with the regulation of blood pressure, the maintenance of blood electrolyte levels, the production of red blood cells and the metabolism of vitamin D and calcium. 

When the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, you can therefore develop further problems in all of these areas. 

Kidney deterioration - what are the threats?

There are many reasons why the function of your kidneys might deteriorate. The most common is simply ageing; we tend to see a slow drift downwards in kidney function as people get older and a degree of impairment is fairly normal in elderly people. There are some inherited conditions that can cause kidney disease, some infections that will damage the kidneys, and some medications that can harm them, including common medications such as ibuprofen.

But the biggest threats to our kidneys are actually the same as those that cause heart attacks and strokes. We commonly see evidence of kidney disease due to high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, and raised cholesterol. To look after your kidneys, it is therefore very important to identify these issues and tackle them before too much damage is done. 

What are the symptoms?

In its later stages, kidney disease can cause a wide range of symptoms such as tiredness, fluid retention, shortness of breath, itching, nausea and loss of appetite, but most people with the disease will actually have no symptoms. Fortunately, detecting disease is very straightforward with a blood test.

Can you test your kidney function?

Because the kidneys are so important, testing the function is one of the most common tests requested.

The main measure of health that we use is a measure of how effectively your kidneys can process your blood known as the ‘estimated glomerular filtration rate’ or eGFR. Essentially, the eGFR is a score of how well your kidneys are working. A score above 60 is usually considered healthy unless there are other markers such as the presence of blood or protein in your urine. A score consistently below 60 would suggest a diagnosis of ‘chronic kidney disease’ or CKD.

As suggested at the top of the article, CKD is very common. It is important to note that, whilst many people think that ‘chronic’ means ‘severe’, in medicine it means anything that is long lasting. This means that you can have mild CKD.

At One Day Tests we provide two different types of Kidney function test.

Our Kidney Function Blood Test, tests for 4 biomarkers in the blood; Sodium, Urea, Creatinine and eGFR.

Our Advanced Kidney Function Blood Test is the more comprehensive version that tests for 8 different biomarkers in the blood. The 4 additional markers tested are; Albumin, total protein, Chlorine and Potassium.

A biomarker is a measurable indicator that provides valuable information about your health. Each biomarker in the blood test is analysed and will be scored against a specific range.

How can you treat Chronic Kidney Disease?

If CKD is identified this is usually not a cause for panic, but it should definitely be a prompt to make sure that you are doing everything possible to look after your kidneys. This means making sure:

  • Your blood pressure is well controlled
  • High cholesterol is treated
  • Diabetes is identified and well managed
  • You stop smoking, drink alcohol within recommended limits, and maintain a healthy weight

Your doctor will also make sure not to prescribe you any medication that might further damage.

If your eGFR is below 30, your doctor may suggest that you see a kidney specialist to make sure you have none of the more unusual causes of kidney disease and to help plan your future care. An eGFR below 15 represents severe CKD and it is below this level that you may need to receive treatment with dialysis.

Once a problem has been identified, then it is also important to monitor the health of your kidneys. The frequency of monitoring depends on the degree of CKD. If you have an eGFR between 45 and 60 then the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence recommend having at least an annual blood test. Those with an eGFR of between 15 and 45 should have it checked at least 6 monthly. People with an eGFR below 15 will need more frequent monitoring but will usually be under the care of a kidney specialist. 

Blood Pressure
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Why it important to identify and treat Chronic Kidney Disease

Although many people know little about it, CKD is very important. If your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, it can cause a huge range of problems from anaemia to osteoporosis but, beyond that, chronic kidney disease is itself a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. It is therefore best to identify the problem early and start making changes that will prevent it getting worse.

Monitor your health with One Day Tests

One Day Tests offer you the power to monitor and understand your health like never before. Whether it’s for routine health checks, managing a chronic condition, or just staying informed about your body, our range of blood tests provides the convenience, accuracy, and peace of mind you deserve.

Whether you choose to visit a clinic for your blood work or opt for the convenience and comfort of using our at-home blood test kits , we ensure a service that is not only dependable but also tailored to suit your preferences.

For additional assistance, guidance or queries regarding our custom panels, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team is here to help you with any questions and provide you with the information you need. You can contact us at 0845 527 07 67, send an email to, or reach out to us via WhatsApp.

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