Understanding Your Lab Results
These important numbers can help assess your kidney function.
It can be scary and unsettling to know that your kidneys are being damaged.
Thankfully, routine urine and blood tests can give you and your health care team a clearer picture of 1) how your kidneys are working to filter your blood and 2) how much protein is leaking into your urine (called proteinuria). For some people, changes in these numbers can sometimes be seen before you feel any symptoms.
These simple urine and blood tests, which are repeated over time, can help you and your health care team:
- Monitor your kidney function to look for changes (there can be ups and downs, so the key is to look at trends over time)
- Determine the stage of your kidney disease on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Make adjustments to your treatment, as needed
- Check for certain health issues that can develop when the kidneys aren’t working properly (for example, anemia, low levels of vitamin D, if there is a build-up of acid in the blood, as well as heart disease)
Findings from your kidney biopsy, if you had one, also provide important information about your kidneys, including how much damage and inflammation is seen.
Common tests used to monitor your kidneys
Your GFR and the amount of protein in your urine give different, but valuable information about your kidney function.
|GFR, which stands for glomerular filtration rate
|A blood test to measure your GFR (creatinine is measured in the blood and the level is used in a mathematical formula, along with other personal factors, to calculate the GFR) A GFR of 60 or higher is in the normal range.A GFR below 60 may mean kidney disease.A GFR of 15 or lower may mean kidney failure. Creatinine levels go up in your blood when your kidneys are not working properly. So as creatinine goes up, GFR goes down. Your GFR also informs what stage of kidney disease you are in
|Urine tests to look for protein or albumin in the urine (this is called proteinuria or albuminuria) or if blood spills into the urine (hematuria)
|These tests have many names, including a urinalysis, urine dipstick test, urine albumin, UACR, UPCR. When the kidneys are healthy, no protein is found in the urine. But with IgAN, protein can make its way into the urine. The less protein/albumin in your urine, the better. Albumin is a type of protein and may be measured rather than total protein. Lowering the amount of protein in your urine will be a key goal of your treatment plan.
|Home blood pressure readings
|Your doctor has likely told you how important it is to manage your blood pressure. That’s because high blood pressure and kidney disease often go hand-in-hand – and each makes the other worse. Keeping tabs on your blood pressure and taking steps to lower it is important for your kidneys. Click here for tips for lowering your blood pressure and taking your blood pressure correctly.
Your GFR or eGFR and the amount of protein in the urine can change. That’s why it is helpful to see trends over time.
Use our worksheet, Tracking Your Labs, Kidney Health and Blood Pressure, to write down your lab results. Always ask questions if you are unsure about what your lab results mean. Don’t forget to talk about how IgAN is affecting how you’re feeling and coping overall.
IgAN Mindful Moments
It’s normal to feel nervous while waiting to see what your latest lab results will show. Try to find ways to feel calmer. Many people say it is helpful to try deep breathing exercises and focusing on what you can control. Check out our IgAN Mindful Moments series for guided meditations, including deep breathing, sound, gratitude, and healing hands.