by Andrew Mills

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) measures the functioning capacity and efficiency of the kidneys. The presence or progression of kidney or liver disease can be assessed. BUN levels gradually increase with age. Children and women have lower blood urea nitrogen levels. It also assesses the blockage of urine, the degree of recovery from burns and the mental disorientation associated with kidney failure. The blood urea nitrogen test is used with the creatinine test, to estimate kidney's task in various circumstances.

Taking diuretics and certain medications also, affects this test. Kidney diseases results in impairment of the kidneys to filter as much urea as they should. This causes high levels of urea in the blood. Urea is a waste product produced by the breakdown of protein. Urea is carried by the blood to the kidneys, which filter the urea out of the blood and into the urine. This blood urea nitrogen test measures and to diagnoses acute or chronic kidney failure patients.

Certain medicines affect the test result. Guidance from the physician is essential. The area of withdrawal is cleansed with an antiseptic and blood is drawn from the elbow vein. The blood is collected in an air-tight bottle or vial. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding. The area of puncture should be taken care of, as swelling and redness are common. The patient can apply moist warm compresses.

The normal range for BUN is 7 to 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) for adults, 5-18 mg/dl for children and 8-20 mg/dl for the elderly. BUN levels can be inconsistent and wavering.

The BUN level may be lower than normal because of a low protein diet, use of corticosteroids, malnourished liver, celiac disease, liver damage, overhydration and pregnancy. BUN levels may be higher (Uremia, or Azotemia) than normal because of heart failure or heart attack, dehydration, high protein diet, blockage of urinary tract, shock, bleeding in the gastro intestinal tract and kidney impairment. Severe kidney damage might be the outcome of higher BUN levels (> 100 mg/dl).

The difference between the incidence of kidney disease and imbalance in dietary protein metabolism is evaluated by the BUN / Creatinine ratio. It is a significant indicator of the kidney's filtering function and an index of the degree of hydration. The ratio of BUN: creatinine is normally 10:1-20:1 and upto 30:1 for babies less than a year.

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