Early Detection and Prevention

Simple laboratory tests such as urinalysis, which looks for protein and blood in the urine, are useful in detecting kidney damage at an early stage. A blood test, the serum creatinine level, is often used as a simple measure of kidney function. It may show a decrease in kidney function long before there are any other signs.

Doctors will often use the serum creatinine test along with other information to calculate the kidneys’ creatinine clearance, or GFR (glomerular filtration rate; it is also called the eGFR or estimated glomerular filtration rate). These results give more accurate information about how much the kidneys are working — specifically, the rate at which the glomeruli are filtering.

  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can speed up the natural course of any underlying kidney disease.
  • If you suffer from diabetes, make sure that your disease is under control. A growing number of kidney patients are people with diabetes.
  • Be very careful about taking non-prescription medications, particularly painkillers. It is wise to discuss all over-the-counter medications with a doctor or pharmacist before they are taken. Certain other medications, toxins, pesticides and illegal drugs (such as heroin and cocaine) can also cause kidney damage. Your doctor can explain the problems associated with long-term use or abuse of these substances.

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