Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is a measure of the effectiveness of the kidney function.
The basic job of the kidney is to filter the waste from the blood supply and produce a filtrate which goes on to form urine.
The GFR is determined from blood samples which I have taken twice a week. This is analysed and a value for GFR calculated.
In adults although GFR decreases with age it should be around 90 for a healthy adult.
For me it should be around 93 – mine currently sits at 10. This is a risky value which could result in kidney failure and although I am feeling well enough at the moment it is an issue which needs to be dealt with.
My kidney isn’t working well and doesn’t remove enough wastes and fluids to keep me healthy. I also cannot make important hormones for my blood and bones. My GFR number is an estimate of how well my kidney is working and keeping me healthy.
Myeloma kidney disease is a common complication of myeloma. Up to 20% of patients will have some degree of kidney disease at diagnosis and a further 40% will develop kidney disease at some point during the course of their myeloma.
The problems originate due to the production of faulty plasma cells in the blood. The faulty cells are made in the bone marrow where they multiply uncontrollably, crowding out the undamaged blood cells.
The faulty plasma cells are unable to provide the immunity which normal cells do and produce paraproteins which in turn clog up the tiny nephron tubes in the kidney which stop them from working properly. See post on Light Chains.
When the kidneys are not working properly, harmful toxins and excess fluids build up in the body, which causes symptoms.
What are the symptoms of myeloma kidney disease?
The symptoms of myeloma kidney disease may include:
- Persistent headaches
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Passing excessive amounts of urine, or very little or no urine
- Swelling in the face and ankles
- Shortness of breath
However, it is possible that people with myeloma kidney disease can have no symptoms. This is because the body can tolerate even a large reduction in kidney function.
The main test used is to measure the amount of creatinine in the blood. Creatinine is a waste product which is normally filtered out by the kidney into the urine.
Levels of creatinine are far too high in my blood stream and hence the GFR is far too low.
At the moment I am waiting to see a renal specialist with a view to deciding the best way forward. I am hoping that this will not involve some form of dialysis but one way or another the GFR has to improve and it is probably the priority health issue at the moment.