One-third of American adults are at risk of kidney disease. Only about 10% of those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) know that they have it, and even more shockingly, only 2 in 5 people who have severe CKD know. And when kidney disease doesn’t often have symptoms until it’s advanced but is in the top ten causes of death for Americans, the importance of regularly checking your kidney health becomes paramount.
One of the easiest ways to see how your kidneys are doing is to take a blood or urine test. At-home kidney tests are an affordable and convenient alternative to in-lab tests and a great way to avoid rising medical costs and the inconvenience of long wait times to schedule an appointment. We’ve compiled our five favorite at-home kidney tests in this guide, breaking down everything else there is to know so you can make the best decision for your health.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick rundown of our findings.
Top recommendations for at home kidney test
The LetsGetChecked Kidney Test is your best option for testing your overall kidney function and health at home.
The Kidney Test provides easy-to-read results within a week of submitting your blood sample. Get the lowest price by taking advantage of our special promo code.
Current Deals: Save 30% with promo code INNERBODY30
- How we evaluated at home kidney tests
- Why you should trust us
- How our top recommendations compare
- How do kidneys work?
- What do at-home kidney tests measure?
- Who should take an at home kidney test?
- Are at home kidney tests accurate?
- Walk-In Lab
- Pixel by LabCorp
- FAQ about kidney testing
When it comes to testing, expenses make all the difference. Medical bills rack up quickly, and if you need to regularly check in on something like your kidney health, the less expensive it is the more accessible it becomes.
While it might not seem like the most cost-effective test at face value, LetsGetChecked has two ways you can save yourself a significant amount of money. They offer a subscription program that ships the same test every three months for a discount of 30%, so you can test and retest to stay on top of your kidney health. Then, add our promotional code for an additional 30% off, and suddenly, each test costs a little less than $50.
If you don’t want to order four kidney tests a year, Vivoo is the next cheapest option at $39.90/month (which is all you need if you want a one-off kidney check-in). However, Vivoo only measures proteins in your urine, which isn’t always a great indicator of your kidney health. LetsGetChecked looks at three major biomarkers for a more accurate glance, saving you money in the long run.
Meanwhile, if you’re not opposed to visiting a lab in-person to have your blood drawn, Walk-In Lab can test you at lower prices than any option for a one-off at-home kidney test (particularly one as extensive as Walk-in-Labs panels). Walk-In Lab provides two different options to test your kidney health, depending on which lab you’d rather visit and what’s more convenient for you. The costs are different for each – $33 for LabCorp and $28 through Quest Diagnostics.
We’ve put together a chart to help you break down the cost of our top testing services so that you can find the test that best fits your budget.
|Cost||Cost with Innerbody Promotion||Number of biomarkers tested|
|Pixel by Labcorp||$89||4|
When a vast majority of people with CKD are asymptomatic, it’s particularly important for testing measures to be accurate. In this case, accuracy is two-fold: both the specific measurements taken and the results themselves. The measurements that best reflect kidney function are:
- Albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR)
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
A test that looks at all three of these measurements is going to have the most specific yet broadest picture of your kidney health and will be able to identify the directionality of problems (is it problems with filtering out good proteins or not filtering out waste).
None of our at-home tests measure all three of these tests. However, LetsGetChecked provides the most comprehensive picture by looking at your GFR, urea, and creatinine levels. It might not be the exact information you’d get with an in-lab test (which are really your most accurate option for kidney tests), but it covers all the right bases to help you completely understand your kidneys’ filtration efficacy.
As a recommendable in-person alternative to at-home tests, Walk-in-Labs connects you with a local laboratory that will perform a blood draw like you’d get in your doctor’s office. The panel test looks at a dozen different biomarkers, including all of the specific markers of kidney function as well as several minerals that are crucial to optimal kidney function. This gives you an extremely high-quality professional reading with results as accurate as possible.
It’s never fun to wait for test results to come back. And when it comes to kidney concerns, that wait can be agonizing. Our speed rating takes into account the time it takes to get the test and get results to you at every turn.
(If you think you have acute kidney disease or a serious condition that needs urgent treatment, we recommend you don’t take an at-home test and instead contact your doctor or go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room; kidney failure is not something to take lightly.)
Vivoo provides results from a urinalysis dipstick test almost immediately. The smartphone camera software blows waiting times out of the water – you’ll have an answer within a few minutes of providing a sample. However, Vivoo only checks the level of protein in your urine, not any other biomarkers for kidney problems. If you want something that’ll test more prominent biomarkers, LetsGetChecked will be your next best option. Once your blood sample gets to their lab, you’ll have results sometime in the next five days. Every other test we recommend takes two to three weeks to get results.
Ease of use
An at-home test isn’t great if it’s not easy to use. A kidney test shouldn’t require a medical degree to understand or an engineering degree to use. While in-lab blood tests are hands-off and easy enough, it can be a pain to get there, particularly in rural areas with limited access to facilities.
People who are familiar with smartphones will find that Vivoo is a breeze to navigate. They offer clear, bright graphic design within their free app and repeated instructions, all of which are easy to find again if you skip through too fast or haven’t tested in a while and forgot the protocol. And the protocol itself is easy: urinate mid-stream on their test strip, then let it sit for at least two minutes before scanning with your phone camera in-app. There’s even an outline on the phone screen for you to line the strip up for best reading like a bank’s mobile check deposit system. The app then measures your results, albeit not precisely, and gives you an answer within minutes. There’s no sending the strip back, no waiting for results, no complicated mailing systems: just you and your phone.
When it comes to your medical information, strong privacy measures are key. They help to protect your private health information (PHI) to keep your most intimate information from getting into the wrong hands. All of our top at-home kidney tests follow HIPAA guidelines, and those that require you to send a sample somewhere use CLIA- and CAP-certified labs for the highest quality testing and privacy standards.
While all of our favorite tests use strong privacy measures, LetsGetChecked takes securing your information a step further. All of your test results are password-protected and only accessible to you (though we do encourage you to share any abnormal results with your doctor), with limited access on their side so only employees who need to interact with your data to fulfill your order or analyze your results can see it. If you download your results from the website, the name of the file is a jumble of numbers and letters so that it isn’t immediately obvious that it’s medical information.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We extensively test each health service or product we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health options, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate products and services based on their adherence to quality and the latest medical evidence and health standards. We ask ourselves two simple questions: Would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job? Would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
|Cost||Cost with discount||Method of testing (blood or urine)||Requires lab visit?||Markers checked||Time to results||HSA/FSA accepted?|
|LetsGetChecked||$99||$69.30||Blood (fingerprick)||Urea, creatinine, GFR||5 days||
|Verisana||$199||Blood (fingerprick)||BUN, creatinine||3 weeks|
|Pixel by LabCorp||$89||Urine and blood (lab draw)||
|Creatinine, GFR, Albumin, ACR||Up to 2 weeks||
|Walk-In Lab||$33||Blood (lab draw)||
|Albumin, BUN, creatinine, BUN/creatinine ratio, sodium, potassium, chloride, carbon dioxide, calcium, glucose, phosphorous, GFR||Up to 2 weeks||
Your kidneys are important organs. Everyone has two fist-sized kidneys that help to clean blood, regulate blood pressure and vital nutrients like potassium, remove waste and excess fluid, control red blood cell production, and more. The kidneys also release vitamin D and a number of hormones such as erythropoietin, which increases the production of and protects red blood cells. It’s safe to say that they have a huge impact on your entire body.
When your kidneys are working properly, they remove waste and excess fluid from your body. This fluid can come from anywhere but is often found in the blood. Blood pumps from an artery in your heart to your kidneys, where it passes through millions of tiny filters called nephrons that sweep up waste products such as urea, an acid naturally produced by your cells. The kidneys then transfer these wastes and excess fluid to your bladder, where they are stored as urine, while the clean blood gets cycled back into your body.
A healthy kidney cleans about a half-cup of blood every minute, or about 200 quarts of fluid a day. That’s equivalent to 50 gallons – or a curbside trash-can full of blood – every single day. Your kidneys work hard to keep your body clean and toxin-free.
When your kidney function goes awry, there are a few ways that concerns can spring up. You might be familiar with kidney stones – minerals that have crystallized in your kidneys to form solid masses that are incredibly painful to pass – but there are several other kidney diseases that can cause problems:
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs) when severe and chronic or untreated
- Cysts and polycystic kidney disease (PKD)
- Glomerulonephritis, or damage to the nephrons
- IgA Nephropathy, where immune system proteins aren’t properly expelled from the kidneys and damage the nephrons
- Genetic diseases, such as cystinosis and Fabry disease
The most common kidney disease is called chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD occurs when the kidneys are damaged and can no longer filter blood like they’re supposed to, leaving excess fluid and waste in your body. Most of what we’ll discuss in this guide is kidney health in relation to CKD, since it’s much more common than any other kidney disease.
There are a few tells that kidney tests look for that identify kidney troubles, depending on if you’re testing your blood or urine.
Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)
One of the most important measures a blood test will point out is your glomerular filtration rate (GFR). GFR is a measurement of how well the glomeruli are working. Glomeruli are the small network of blood vessels that move waste out of the kidneys.
The glomerular filtration rate, therefore, is the rate at which the glomeruli are filtering your blood. This is an extremely important measurement, but one that’s had a bit of a troubled past with racial biases (see the FAQ for more information). As of February 2022, several major kidney and nephrology groups are advocating for a change in how clinicians measure your GFR. That said, it’s still one of the best measurements to see how well your kidneys are functioning.
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and urea
Urea, or uric acid, is one of the main waste products that kidneys remove from the body. Blood urea nitrogen (BUN), on the other hand, is a side product created by the liver when it’s breaking down protein from food. Both are removed by the kidneys and are easy to measure in order to test how well your kidneys are actually filtering your blood.
So, what’s the difference between BUN and urea? A BUN test measures the amount of nitrogen in the urea as well as the total amount of urea, whereas a urea test just measures the amount of the byproduct in your blood. A BUN test is a little bit more specific to kidney function since it is a direct byproduct that funnels straight to the kidneys, and therefore is a slightly better way to test your kidney health.
Like how BUN is a byproduct of liver processing, creatinine is a waste product from everyday muscle use. Every time you move your muscles, they metabolize an amino acid called creatine, which gets broken down into creatinine. Since you are always moving your muscles, creatinine is released on a steady basis and is constantly being removed by the kidneys.
Checking your creatinine levels is a consistent way of looking at your kidney functioning since it’s a natural constant within your body. If you have high creatinine levels in your blood, it means that your kidneys aren’t filtering it out. While there are tests like a creatinine clearance test which only measure creatinine, it’s an old test that is being phased out. A creatinine clearance test takes several urine samples over 24 hours as well as a blood draw to fully measure, which is impractical and certainly inconvenient.
Protein (proteinuria) and abnormalities
It’s normal and expected that we have protein in our blood. When we find protein in our urine, however, is when we run into problems. The most common protein to find in urine is albumin since it’s the most common protein in our blood.
Normally, your kidneys filter out waste and excess liquid from your blood without removing proteins or nutrients like iron and folic acid. When a kidney is damaged, it might get worse at identifying what should stay in the blood and what needs to be thrown out, meaning good proteins like albumin might be removed and concentrated in your urine. A good at-home urinalysis test will be able to tell you if excess levels of protein are found in your urine, which is a good first step to identifying kidney problems. But not all urinalysis dipstick tests are as sensitive to protein as they need to be for proper diagnosis.
Albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR)
A better method of identifying too much protein in your urine than a simple urinalysis is called an albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR). Your ACR is a specific calculation of how much protein is in your urine versus how much waste is in your blood to get an overall strong sense of your total kidney function. This is the only major test that considers both waste not being cleaned and good proteins being removed, so it’s a great measurement for kidney health. Doctors and lab workers can do this by dividing the albumin concentration by the creatinine concentration from a urine sample.
Since 90% of people with kidney problems are asymptomatic, it can be hard to tell when you need to take a test to check your kidney function. For the most part, if you are healthy, it’s unlikely that your kidneys will be struggling. Kidneys are easily impacted by other health concerns though, especially those that impact blood or fluid in your body. These conditions include:
- Diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
- High blood pressure
- Heart concerns or disease
- A family history of CKD
If you have any of those conditions, your primary care provider might use regular kidney testing as a way of monitoring your condition.
Just because symptoms aren’t common doesn’t mean that they don’t happen. Some key symptoms to look out for include:
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Swollen feet
- Muscle cramps
- Dry, itchy skin
- Puffy eyes
- More frequent urination
- Blood in your urine
- Foamy urine
Many of these symptoms are common to other conditions; fatigue from kidney disease looks the same as fatigue from hypothyroidism or a vitamin B12 deficiency. Others, like foamy urine, are indicators specific to kidney diseases.
Since a vast majority of kidney disease cases are asymptomatic, it’s important to stay on top of your health by checking in with your kidneys regularly. This is particularly important if you’re at a higher risk because of other conditions or a family history of CKD.
It depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to know if you have kidney damage, a urinalysis is the best way to go. If you want to check on your overall kidney function, blood work is better. The difference between a test for kidney function and a test for kidney damage is where it comes from: kidney damage can have multiple causes such as COVID-19, high blood pressure, diabetes, or physical injury, whereas a decrease in kidney function is most likely to be from CKD or acute kidney disease.
An at-home kidney test is going to be just as accurate as a kidney test you’d take in a doctor’s office as long as you follow the directions. They test the same measures and use the same equations to calculate your results.
Best overall, most cost-effective, most accurate, most accessible results, best privacy
- Strong privacy measures
- Results are easy to read and access
- Fast result turn-around time
- Measures all the major biomarkers for kidney function
- Save 30% with their three-month subscription program
- Save 30% with our promo code INNERBODY30
- Not covered by insurance (but can use HSA/FSA funds)
- Only available in the United States
- Samples need to be taken first thing in the morning on a weekday
LetsGetChecked offers at-home tests for dozens of health concerns, from STDs and men’s health to thyroid levels and vitamin D. Their kidney test uses a fingerprick blood sample to measure your urea, creatinine, and GFR. All of the equipment they provide is well-crafted and easy to use, and there was only a week between our testers placing their orders and getting their results.
If you start a subscription for LetsGetChecked’s kidney test, not only will you get a kit every three months to effectively monitor your kidney health, but you can also save 30% off the listed price. Combine that with our 30% off promo code and you can drop the price to less than $50, almost half off. Between the opportunity for lots of discounts, the convenience of having an accurate blood test delivered to your door, and easy-to-understand results, we think that LetsGetChecked has the best at-home kidney test.
Still curious about LetsGetChecked? Take a look at our full review.
Best in-person laboratory test
- Provides cost comparisons between both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics
- Huge catalog of potential laboratory tests
- Competitive pricing much lower than competitors
- Offers most comprehensive labs
- Blood test requires fasting for 12 hours
- Test has to happen in a lab, not at home
- Quality of experience varies with the lab you select
- Can be inconvenient, particularly in rural areas with few labs
- Difficult to pick the right lab test or panel if you’re just getting started
Walk-In Lab is a middleman that helps you find the best lab for your money. They compare individual tests from different services like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics to help you find exactly the right test at the lowest cost. They offer hundreds of direct-testing panels and labs in every potential health category from cancer screening to drug tests to allergy testing. While both the LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics sites explain it can take up to two weeks to get results, Walk-In Lab quotes results in one to two days. Our testers found that this timing varied depending on the location of the lab itself, from same-day results to radio silence until the following week.
While we focused on Walk-In Lab’s Renal Function Blood Test Panel, they offer more than 75 different kidney tests. Some of these tests are more relevant than others, and it can be daunting to scroll through the list trying to find the best one. We recommend their Renal Function Blood Test Panel for its efficient combination of low pricing with comprehensive results, covering 12 different biomarkers including (but not limited to):
- Blood glucose (to discover or monitor diabetes)
Fastest results, most efficient
- Provides whole-body care with 12 biomarkers
- Personalizes nutrition advice based on urinalysis
- Free app provides fast, easy-to-use testing from home
- Free shipping worldwide with a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Only tests urine protein
- Urinalysis dipstick tests aren’t the most accurate
- Requires a subscription for regular monitoring
Vivoo is a bright and intuitive app that helps you to monitor your body holistically through regular urinalysis. They sell test strips for your urinalysis, which you then use and, after 120 seconds of waiting, analyze in their app. You won’t even have to leave your bathroom to get your results back. The urinalysis-only test is a great option for those who get squeamish around blood.
Specifically, Vivoo measures:
- Vitamin C
- Free radicals
While Vivoo has great potential, especially for those concerned about the impact of their diet on their overall health, it doesn’t have a lot to offer specifically for kidney health, especially considering that urinalyses using dipsticks aren’t particularly sensitive to low levels of protein that can indicate the start of kidney problems. And while you get results back quickly, a one-time purchase of four Vivoo urine sticks costs a few cents less than $40, or about $10/test. If you’re looking solely at your kidney functioning, this might not be the most efficient option but is great for fast results.
- HSA/FSA accepted
- Comprehensive blood testing without going overboard
- Easy-to-find lab results
- Measures both blood and urine for complete picture
- Only analyzes protein levels
- Quality of experience varies depending on the lab you visit
- Can be inconvenient, with few labs in rural areas
If you want to work directly with LabCorp, they offer multiple blood tests through their Pixel service. Pixel by LabCorp collects the most efficient and effective tests for a wide range of health concerns, including a snapshot of your kidney health. Their kidney test is on the expensive side at $89 but measures your GFR, albumin, creatinine, and ACR through your blood and urine for an exceptionally cohesive picture of your kidney health. However, you will have to visit a LabCorp location in-person for this test.
While they don’t go above and beyond what their competitors offer, you can use HSA and FSA funds to pay for this test. All of their labs are CLIA- and CAP-certified for high-quality privacy and testing conditions, so you can feel confident knowing that the results you’re getting are accurate. The time it takes to get your results varies, but they will almost always arrive within two weeks. Our testers found that it took anywhere from one to eight days for their results to process.
- Samples are disposed of after analysis, protecting your PHI
- Discreet packaging
- Near-effortless fingerprick collection
- Free shipping
- One of the most expensive options
- Customer service can be iffy
- Only measures two biomarkers for kidney concerns
- Unable to ship to MD, NJ, NY, and RI
- Not certified by the Better Business Bureau
At $119 for one kit, Verisana is the most expensive testing kit on our list. It measures two important features of kidney testing: BUN and creatinine. While it doesn’t monitor GFR, albumin, or ACR, you can still get a decent sense of your kidney health by looking at BUN and creatinine.
Their fingerprick blood collection kit is easy to use and efficient, allowing you to take a small sample of your blood and get it back in the mail the same day, though Verisana has no requirements about when, where, or how you take and mail your sample. When you get your results back in two to three weeks (the longest wait time on our list), you’ll get a comprehensive and color-coded guide to understanding your results. Verisana is not FDA-approved and cannot provide medical advice, so they recommend taking your results to your primary care provider if you have any questions.
Are kidney tests reliable?
Yes. At-home kidney tests measure the same variables as a kidney test ordered by your doctor, which are consistently accurate measurements of kidney health. Some biomarkers are more precise than others, but all help to illuminate potential problems.
However, the calculations used to measure GFR are due for an update as of February 2022 (see the question about GFR below for more information).
Do I need to fast before a kidney test?
Some tests may require that you fast. This is especially common when they check other things alongside kidney function, like blood glucose levels. Eating – or skipping meals – doesn’t affect how your kidneys work in the short term, so there’s no need to fast before checking in on your kidney health.
While your diet can affect your kidney health over the course of your life, changes in your diet are more likely to affect things that can predispose you to kidney troubles, especially type 2 diabetes.
Is kidney damage reversible?
It depends. Our kidneys slow down and become less efficient with age, which is irreversible as long as we continue to age. In terms of kidney damage, the two major causes determine whether or not there are treatment options that could fix your kidneys.
Damage to your kidneys from an acute injury or acute renal failure can be reversible. Most of the time, people who experience acute renal failure are already hospitalized for a life-threatening condition, such as severe COVID-19. It is a very serious condition that needs treatment immediately in order to get your kidneys working again. This treatment can range anywhere from a transplant to a short course of medication, though it’s most often dialysis or medication.
Damage from CKD is not reversible. However, there are treatments and steps you can take to keep your CKD from getting worse, such as:
- Drinking less alcohol
- Quitting tobacco
- Increasing your activity levels, exercising for at least 30 minutes a day
- Managing your blood pressure and blood sugar
- Taking medications, such as diuretics or beta-blockers, as your doctor prescribes
Why is GFR measured differently for African-Americans?
Like all lab tests, GFR is an estimation based on how your body is functioning in the snapshot moment you draw blood. Historically, the calculation for GFR has been different for African-American patients because it was believed that those with African ancestry are more likely to have a variant of the APOLI gene that increases how much creatinine your body naturally produces.
In February 2022, a collaborative task force between the National Kidney Foundation and American Institute for Nephrology published an article full of suggestions for minimizing racial bias in kidney testing. Specifically, it calls for non-racialized GFR measurement calculations, since there is little to no proof that GFR actually varies by race. A study from 1999 showed that GFR tests are based on three small, flawed studies – so we’ve known for a while that this is a systemic problem.
As it exists today, the measurement (often inaccurately) assigns a higher GFR to patients with African ancestry. This means that, even if someone is experiencing CKD, it may not be diagnosed right away because of the artificial inflation of their GFR. This also makes it harder for African-Americans to get accurately dosed and prescribed medication, taking longer to get onto kidney transplant lists, and overall contributes to racial biases in medicine.
American laboratories are now moving away from the racially differentiated GFR test and toward a more accurate measurement. While there are still some differences in kidney functioning with different versions of the APOLI gene, it’s not consistent enough throughout the population to warrant an entirely separate GFR calculation.
Can at-home kidney tests check for infections?
A blood test like the ones on this list can’t check for a kidney infection. A urinalysis might be able to, however, as they often test your urine for signs of infection like pus, blood, and bacteria. None of the at-home kidney tests currently on the market look for UTIs, which can contribute to kidney problems over time. Likewise, no at-home test for kidney problems is diagnostic, so if you see results that are confusing or concerning, be sure to follow up with your primary care provider.
Can at-home kidney tests predict kidney stones?
No. There are warning signs that you can look out for, but as of yet, there are no ways to test for forming kidney stones. Some of the warning signs include:
- Severe back or stomach pain
- Pain when urinating
- Cloudy, pink, or foul-smelling urine
- Increased urge to urinate
- Not being able to urinate though you feel like you need to
- Fever and chills
While they are tremendously painful, they are common and often pass without the need for surgical or other medical intervention. Staying hydrated can help you to both prevent and pass kidney stones.
What can I do to prevent kidney disease?
For the most part, you don’t need to do anything special to take care of your kidneys. Eat a healthy diet, stay active, and keep hydrated. Staying on top of conditions that could raise your blood sugar or blood pressure is important to avoid raising your risks. Stress management is also important to keep your kidneys healthy, as having high levels of stress for a long time can raise your blood pressure and, with time, cause kidney damage.
What happens if my at-home kidney test indicates a problem?
First: don’t panic. Contact your primary care provider and they’ll reassess you. If your at-home test gave you a true positive result, meaning that there is genuinely a concern to address, your doctor will help you come up with a treatment plan and monitor your condition.