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Kidney function tests determine whether the kidneys are functioning typically or whether a person may need regular testing or further treatment. Many online companies design these types of tests for home use, which can be beneficial for people who cannot visit a doctor’s office.
- For collecting samples at home: LetsGetChecked Kidney Test
- For doctor-reviewed test requests: Pixel by Labcorp Kidney Health Test Package
- For a wide variety of tests: Walk-In Lab Kidney Test
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based.
Kidney function tests help diagnose and monitor kidney disease. The kidneys
The United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS) states that doctors may suggest testing for people who experience symptoms of chronic kidney disease. These symptoms include:
- lack of appetite
- unintentional weight loss
- shortness of breath
- frequent urination
- blood in the urine or really dark urine throughout the day
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), individuals with a high risk of developing kidney disease should undergo regular kidney function testing. This includes people with:
Additionally, kidney function tests help diagnose kidney disorders in their early stages.
There are two types of kidney function tests: blood and urine tests.
Doctors may refer to this as a glomerular filtration rate (GFR) test, as it checks how well the kidneys filter waste from the blood.
According to the NIDDK, GFR tests can return the below results.
|GFR of 60 or more||typical range|
|GFR of less than 60||may indicate kidney disease|
|GFR of 15 or less||may indicate kidney failure|
Healthcare professionals may also measure the amount of creatine in the blood to estimate a person’s GFR. People experience higher levels of creatine when they have kidney disease.
Urine tests check for albumin, a protein that can end up in the urine following kidney damage.
According to the NIDDK, the two types of urine tests include a dipstick urine test, which checks whether there is albumin in the urine. The second is the urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR), which measures the levels of albumin and creatine in the urine. A typical UACR result is less than 30 milligrams per gram — a reading of more than this may indicate a person needs to undergo another test.
People looking for an at-home kidney function test may wish to consider the following factors before making a purchase:
- Certified laboratories: Some companies work with laboratories with a
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)certification. This indicates these facilities have obtained federal certifications to meet quality laboratory testing standards.
- Consultations: Some companies offer consultations with a medical professional for people who wish to discuss their results.
- Collection kit: Individuals who order their home kit from an online provider should receive all the tools they need to take the blood sample. They should also receive instructions.
- Privacy: Companies compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ensure that sufficient security measures are in place to protect the individual’s private and sensitive information. Additionally, many companies offering home testing use discreet packaging.
Several kidney function tests are available to purchase online. Some tests require a person to visit an affiliated laboratory to collect and test samples.
People need to interpret their kidney test results with the help of a healthcare professional. If the kidney test indicates a potential kidney condition, an individual should contact a doctor as soon as possible for further advice and treatment.
LetsGetChecked offers a finger prick test that tests for urea, creatine, and estimated GFR.
The website features an instructional video explaining how people should collect the sample. LetsGetChecked also provides individuals with all the tools they need, such as a self-addressed envelope, blood collection tube, and wipes.
The company recommends a person take their sample before 10 a.m. on Monday to Thursday, and once they collect their sample, they can return it on the same day. LetsGetChecked also suggests avoiding protein-heavy meals before testing.
People should receive their results within 2–5 days and can discuss their results with LetsGetChecked’s nurses, who are available any time of the day.
The company states its laboratories are CLIA-approved and are part of the College of American Pathologists (CAP) program. LetsGetChecked also accepts Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) as payment options.
Advantages and drawbacks
Some advantages of this service include the below.
- The LetsGetChecked nursing team is available at any time to discuss results.
- The company offers a subscription plan for those who require regular testing.
- A person does not have to visit a lab for testing or dropping off samples.
- The service accepts HSA and FSA as payment options.
However, LetsGetChecked only provides one type of kidney test. A doctor may recommend the need for further testing if this test indicates a kidney condition.
LabCorp’s kidney test is available for individuals aged 18 years and older. For the test, people need to provide a blood and urine sample.
According to LabCorp’s website, once customers buy a test, a physician reviews and approve their test request. Then, the individual visits one of the company’s testing centers, where a trained technician takes their sample.
People generally receive their results through their online accounts, and if they require prompt attention, the company may contact them by phone or mail.
In addition, LabCorp states it performs its tests in CAP-accredited and CLIA-certified labs. The company also accepts HSA and FSA as payment options.
Advantages and drawbacks
Some advantages of LabCorp’s kidney test include the below.
- The company accepts HSA and FSA as payment options.
- Doctors review the customer’s test requests.
- The company may call a person if they need to discuss their results.
However, people cannot perform this test at home. Instead, they need to visit a Pixel by Labcorp facility to provide their samples.
Walk-In Lab offers a range of kidney tests. People can choose between kidney function, renal function, or urinalysis screenings.
The company offers several at-home test kits as well as kidney tests that require a visit to a laboratory.
People can purchase a kidney test online and go to one of two affiliated laboratories to provide their samples. The technicians will then test the samples and return the results. Its affiliated labs are Labcorp and Quest.
However, the company states that Labcorp does not allow online lab testing for individuals residing in:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
Additionally, Walk-In Labs says that Quest does not allow online lab testing for those residing in:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
The company also states people will receive their test results within 48 hours of sample collection. Additionally, the service’s tests are eligible for HSA payments, while Walk-In Labs claims it will price-match any cheaper tests.
Advantages and drawbacks
The advantages of using Walk-In Labs include the below.
- The company accepts HSA payments.
- There is a wide variety of tests available.
- The company offers to price-match any cheaper tests.
- People can receive their test results within 48 hours.
However, most of Walk-In Lab’s kidney tests do not allow at-home sample collection. Additionally, people from certain states are not able to use this service.
Below are some frequently asked questions about kidney tests.
What is the first sign of kidney failure?
According to the American Kidney Fund, some early symptoms of kidney failure include the following symptoms:
When the kidneys suddenly stop working, a person can experience acute kidney failure, which can lead to:
People need to contact a doctor as soon as possible if they experience any symptoms of kidney failure.
Are at-home kidney function tests accurate?
There is currently no research on the accuracy of home kidney function tests.
If a person is unsure how accurate an at-home test is, they can speak with a healthcare professional about a test they are considering.
People with symptoms of kidney disease or those at high risk of developing kidney problems should consult with a doctor.
A healthcare professional may recommend further testing and treatment or refer them to a specialist doctor, such as a nephrologist, who has expertise in kidney diseases.
Home kidney function tests are tests that people can purchase to check their kidney’s condition. These can be helpful for individuals experiencing early symptoms of kidney disease or those at a high risk of developing the condition.
However, people need to interpret their results with the help of a healthcare professional. They should therefore contact a doctor for further advice and treatment if the test results indicate kidney disease. This is because healthcare professionals need to consider the symptoms and other factors before establishing a diagnosis based on a test alone.