What is Glomerular Filtration Rate?

Detecting your kidney condition as early as possible is the best way to provide a solution, either to slow the progression of a disease or totally stop it.

glomerular filtration rate

We have all kinds of test.

Before we are born, our mother has to undergo a pregnancy test. Afterward, she has to go through several check-ups to test whatever is needed to check.

From the day we are born until we begin school days, we have to face many tests. Even after college graduation, there are tests set before us to achieve our dream career. But that’s not all. Once, you’re in a company, there is regular physical examination which checks your physical well-being. Different kind of tests are conducted in it, and perhaps you can name a few.

We have to admit. These tests are necessary for our lives. Perhaps, most especially the medical tests are the most important. Checking how functional our organs are especially vital to work better.

Glomerular filtration rate is one of the tests that you may, or may not, heard. But what is it? Let’s find out as you read on.

What is glomerular filtration rate?

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) got its name from a certain part of your kidney, glomeruli, which filter waste product. GFR is the rate of the blood flow that passes through the kidney. However, there is no direct method to measure the glomerular filtration rate.

Our kidneys have a very important role in our body. For instance, all the blood that flows in our body passes through the kidneys several times a day. The kidneys separate the liquid from the blood and push it into nephrons (body’s tiny filters). The kidney will absorb the liquid again and put it back in the blood. What the kidney didn’t reabsorb (waste products and other fluid material) will be emitted as urine.

As you may have noticed, the kidneys filter the waste and extra water in our blood. Thus, to simply define what GFR is, it is the way of measuring how your kidney cleans your blood. Through estimated GFR (eGFR), your doctor can tell how much waste product does your blood contains. These waste products are referred to as creatinine.

Aside from that, GFR is an effective test to determine the stage of kidney disease.

Who needs a GFR test?

The GFR may be a part of your regular physical examination. But if not, it is recommended among people who seem to have kidney issues. Some symptoms that will alarm the doctors are:

  • Pain in the center of your lower back, near the kidneys
  • Puffiness or swelling around ankles, wrists, belly, and eyes
  • Experiencing pain when peeing or other urinating problem
  • Brownish color, blood, or foam substance in your pee
  • Peeing more or less

The test is also conducted by doctors when you have conditions that influence your kidneys. For instance, heart disease, blood pressure, and diabetes affect your kidneys. Your doctor may also suggest eGFR if one of your family members have kidney disease.

How does the test work?

If you are taking any medication as well as vitamins and supplements, you have to tell it to your doctor before he or she conducts eGFR. The doctor may advise you to stop taking medication, or even certain food, before the test.

To check your estimated GFR, your doctor or a nurse will get a blood sample from you, then they will send it to the lab to take the amount of creatinine that it has. Using out a mathematical formula that is based on your age, gender, race as well as the amount of creatinine they found, the result will come out. If the result of your GFR is low, it only means that your kidney is not functioning as it should.

Detecting your kidney condition as early as possible is the best way to provide a solution, either to slow the sickness progression down or totally stop it.

Here is how the GFR test determines the kidney function.

  • If your kidney is on stage one, the result of GFR will be 90 or higher. It means that your kidney is 90 to 100 percent functioning, however, it is damaged.
  • On stage two, GFR result will be 60 to 89. Your kidney is functioning in mild loss level in this stage because of the damage.
  • Forty-five to 59 will be the GFR result, once it is on stage 3a. Kidney function at this time reaches mild to moderate loss. When it hit stage 3b, GFR result will 30 to 44. Moreover, the loss of kidney function is working moderately to severe.
  • Severe loss of kidney function will what happen at stage 4. The GFR result at this time will be 15 to 29.
  • Once the GFR hit the result of less than 15, it means that you are on stage 5 of kidney disease. By this time, your kidney is not functioning already.

Further Tests

If your kidney is detected to have a problem, don’t fret. Doctors, have further way or test, to check your kidney. If necessary, your doctor may conduct:

  1. Imaging Tests – CT scan or ultrasound are included in the imaging tests. This is necessary to get a clear picture of the kidney as well as the urinary tract. Through the pictures, your doctor can determine if your kidney is too large or too small. He can also tell if other problems exist in your kidney.
  2. Kidney Biopsy – Kidney biopsy is seldom done. The doctors usually perform this method if necessary, say a specific type of kidney condition. Through biopsy, they can see and tell how much damage the kidney has. Moreover, they can plan for the best treatment. To conduct a biopsy, the doctor needs to get a small sample of the patient’s kidney tissue and observe it under a microscope.

What factors can affect the test?

Cases wherein the result of the test are inaccurate is possible. This usually happens under the below category:

  • Obese people
  • Pregnant women
  • People who are following a vegetarian diet
  • Elderlies as well as people whose age are below 18
  • Bodybuilders or people that have more muscles than normal
  • Patients that have diseases that lower the muscle mass
  • Patients with kidney-related issues or other severe illnesses

If you find yourself in one of the categories, ask your doctor how these factors can affect your estimated GFR results.

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