A human holds an open model of a kidney in his hands

Regular Kidney Screenings for Seniors

While kidney disease can happen at any time, people over 60 are more likely to develop it. Additionally, if you have risk factors like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and/or family/genetic history of kidney disorders, your risk of kidney disease is higher. Because kidney disease affects so many people and often presents with very few symptoms, regular kidney screening is the most effective way for early diagnosis and treatment. In this article, we’ll go over the most common types of kidney screening and the importance of regular kidney screenings for seniors. 

Kidney Screening Options 

  • Urine tests are effective in catching kidney disease early on because one of the earliest signs of kidney disease is when protein leaks into your urine. If you have no other indications of kidney disease, this will most likely be the kidney screening test your doctor uses. They may use a dipstick urine test as part of an overall urinalysis to test for albumin, a protein created by your liver, although it won’t give them the specific measurement of this protein. A urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) is another urine test that gives more specific results and may be used to monitor your protein levels even if you’re diagnosed with kidney disease. 
  • Blood tests are another way to determine how well your kidneys are working because your kidneys, when they’re working properly, should filter out waste, toxins, and extra fluid from your blood. If they’re not working properly though, various blood tests, like the serum creatinine blood test, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN), will test what levels of different toxins and waste products are in your blood. 
  • Blood pressure is a leading cause of kidney disease and failure, so monitoring your blood pressure may be something else your doctor wants to do to stay on top of your kidney function. 
  • Imaging tests can also be done to look at your kidney and see if there are problems or damage. These allow your doctor to see how well blood is flowing to your kidneys or if there is a blockage or narrowing in your blood vessels. 
  • Kidney biopsies can be done to check for signs of damage or disease as well. This is a procedure where a small piece of your kidney tissues is removed using a thin needle inserted through your skin and examined under a microscope. 

Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy 

Regular screening for signs of kidney disease is important to catch the disease early and treat it as soon as possible, but there are also things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy to lower your risk of developing kidney disease. These steps include: 

  • Eating healthy 
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Managing your cholesterol levels 
  • Managing high blood pressure