Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) Test: What Elevated Levels Indicate?

If you've ever had a routine blood test, chances are that you might have come across reports of your blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels being elevated. This is a common issue faced by many individuals which could signal an underlying health problem.

What is the BUN test?

The BUN test is a routine blood test that measures the amount of nitrogen present in your blood as a result of the breakdown of protein by the liver. The nitrogen is then converted into urea by the kidneys, which is excreted from the body through urine. Therefore, BUN levels in the blood reflect how effectively the kidneys are functioning.

What do elevated levels imply?

Elevated BUN levels could indicate a variety of health issues, ranging from dehydration, heart failure, and liver damage to kidney disease. While a BUN level above the normal range (7-20mg/dL) is not considered a diagnostic tool, it can be a red flag indicating an underlying condition. The doctor might recommend other tests to confirm or rule out the condition/suspected problem based on the initial BUN results.

What can you do to control your BUN levels?

First and foremost, you need to address the root cause of the elevated BUN levels. If it's due to dehydration, then drinking plenty of water is the first step. If it's due to an underlying condition, then treating the condition is the next step. In cases of chronic kidney disease, a low-protein diet, medication, and dialysis treatments may be required to bring BUN levels under control.

Diet also plays a crucial role in controlling BUN levels. A high-protein diet can overload the kidneys, making it harder for them to filter the nitrogen. Therefore, individuals with elevated BUN levels should limit their protein intake to control BUN levels. They could also include foods that increase urine output, such as cucumber, watermelon, and celery, and avoid salty foods that lead to water retention.


Elevated BUN levels are a common issue faced by many individuals, but they could indicate an underlying health problem if left untreated. Therefore, it's imperative to address the root cause of elevated BUN levels and make the required lifestyle changes to bring it under control. If you have elevated BUN levels, talk to your doctor and work with them to determine the underlying cause and the best course of treatment. By understanding what elevated BUN levels indicate, you can take the necessary steps to maintain healthy kidney function and overall well-being.