The Importance of Blood Urea Levels For Monitoring Kidney Function
1. 1 Explanation of Blood Urea as a Measure of Kidney Function
The level of Blood Urea in the blood is an important parameter in assessing the functioning of the kidneys. Urea is nothing but a waste product that is produced in the liver after breakdown of proteins. This urea along with nitrogen is absorbed in the blood in the liver from where they reach the kidneys .
It is the role of the kidneys to filter out the urea and nitrogen from the blood and eliminate it from the body through urine. This is the reason why Blood Urea is the most precise and favored test to measure the health of the kidneys .
1.2 The Importance of Kidneys in Overall health and Well-being
Every organ of the body is vital for the overall good health and fitness of a person. Every organ has its own role in ensuring that the body functions smoothly without any issues and a person stays healthy. Kidneys are also equally important for the overall health of a person .
The primary function of the kidneys is to remove waste products from the body. It also facilitates regulation of blood pressure. Kidneys play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis. If for some reason the kidneys do not function normally the whole body system gets impacted by it .
The blood pressure starts to fluctuate. There is gradual accumulation of waste products which negatively impacts the health of a person. If the problem is not detected and addressed promptly it may lead to complete kidney failure which is quite a complicated condition to treat and, in most cases, requires kidney transplantation .
How Do Kidneys Function?
2.1 Anatomy of the Kidneys
The kidneys are the filtering organs of the body and are located on either side of the spine, behind the abdominal cavity. Blood is supplied to these organs from the renal arteries and gets filtered of all waste products and excess fluids. This filtered blood then reaches back to the main body through the renal veins. The waste products that have been filtered out from the kidneys are eliminated from the body through urine .
2.2 Importance of Kidneys in Removing Waste Products
As illustrated above the primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate any waste and toxic products that may be present in the body. Additionally, they help in regulating the blood pressure and balancing the electrolyte kevels in the body .
What is Blood Urea?
3.1 Definition and Explanation of Blood Urea
Blood Urea is a waste product that is produced in the liver after breakdown of proteins. This is then filtered amount of urea nitrogen present in the blood. The level of urea in the blood is measured in milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL .
3.2 How Blood Urea Levels Are Measured?
A simple blood test is good enough to get an accurate measure of blood urea in the blood and ascertain the functioning of the kidneys. Blood is taken from the vein from the forearm and sent to the laboratory for analysis. It usually takes a few days before the test results are available .
3.3 Normal Blood Urea Levels
The normal levels of Blood Urea in adults range from 7 to 20 mg/dL. However, there are certain factors that may affect the blood urea levels in the blood. As an example, if a person is on a high protein diet then the blood urea levels in that person will be high. Similarly, if a person is dehydrated even then the blood urea levels will be high. Additionally, other comorbidities, age, and gender of a person may also at times affect the levels of blood urea in the body .
How Blood Urea Levels Indicate Kidney Function
4.1 Relationship Between Blood Urea and Kidney Function
The urea that is produced in the liver gets filtered out by the kidneys and eliminated from the body through urine. However, there is still some amount of urea and nitrogen left in the blood which does not affect the health of a person in any way. These are termed as normal levels of blood urea in the blood [1, 6].
In a healthy person, the levels of blood urea will be in between the ranges that have been mentioned above i.e., between 7 and 20 mg/dL. However, if the levels are abnormal and all other factors have been taken into account then it indicates that the kidneys are not functioning normally [1, 6].
4.2 How High Blood Urea Levels Indicate Kidney Dysfunction
The reason why high urea levels indicate kidney dysfunction is because dysfunctional kidneys will not be able to filter out the excess urea present in the blood along with other toxins .
This results in a gradual buildup of these toxins which negatively impact the overall health of the person. However, conditions like heart failure, dehydration and liver dysfunction are also some of the causes of increased blood urea levels .
4.3 Factors That Can Affect Blood Urea Levels
The blood urea levels can be influenced by various factors. Consuming high amounts of protein can lead to increased levels of blood urea, as mentioned earlier. Apart from this, certain medications and supplements can also contribute to higher blood urea levels. It is worth noting that individuals with cardiac conditions are more likely to have elevated blood urea levels as well .
Other Tests Used to Assess Kidney Function
5.1 Explanation of Creatinine and eGFR Tests
Another vital parameter to test for kidney function aside from blood urea levels is measuring the levels of creatinine and eGFR. Creatinine is yet another waste product that is filtered by the kidneys and elevation of which indicates abnormal kidney function. The eGFR or estimated glomerular filtration rate factors in the age of the patient, sex, and creatinine levels to estimate as to how well the kidneys are functioning .
5.2 Comparison of Blood Urea Test to Other Kidney Function Tests
Blood Urea may be a vital indicator of the kidney function but it is not necessary that all the results that come are accurate and reliable. If an abnormal result is obtained after a blood urea test, then it is better to analyze the factors that affect the blood urea levels. Additionally, levels of creatinine and eGFR should also be done to come to a definitive diagnosis of a kidney dysfunction .
6.1 Importance of Blood Urea in Assessing Kidney Function and Health
The Blood Urea levels in the body provide vital information of not only the kidney function but also the overall health status of a person. While there are factors that can influence the blood urea levels in most cases a high blood urea level indicates that all is not right pertaining to the kidney function .
That being said, it is also equally important to also check the levels of creatinine and eGFR to come to a definitive diagnosis of kidney dysfunction and formulate a treatment plan best suited for the patient. If blood urea levels are abnormal in a patient it is important to consult with a nephrologist who may conduct further investigations as to the cause of renal dysfunction and make a treatment plan .
Once the underlying cause is identified and treated the blood urea levels normalize. However, in some cases of the cause is untreatable and the kidneys become completely dysfunctional or nonfunctional then a kidney transplant may be required to restore the kidney function .
- https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/howkidneyswrk