Around 10% of people have kidney disease in the UK. In most cases, kidney disease is mild and causes no symptoms, so it is possible to have some degree of kidney disease without being aware of it. A kidney function test can detect kidney disease and indicate whether you need to undergo further tests or treatment.
This article on kidney function tests is by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
What causes kidney function to decrease?
The kidneys are fist-sized organs found at the bottom of your back, just below the rib cage. Their primary role is to cleanse the blood by filtering out waste products and excess water, salts, hormones and other substances. These are excreted from the body in urine. By controlling the amount of water circulating in the blood, the kidneys also play an important part in regulating blood pressure.
Kidney function naturally declines with age: over the age of 40, you lose 1% of your kidney function each year. This means that by the age of 80, your kidney function falls to around 60%. Much bigger reductions in kidney function can occur if you get an infection or if you have a health problem that affects the kidneys. The two most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure. If you have either of these, you should have your kidney function checked regularly to allow problems to be dealt with quickly.