Blood urea nitrogen, or BUN, is the waste by-product of metabolized protein. The ammonia your liver produces during protein breakdown contains nitrogen. The nitrogen combines with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in your body and forms urea, which then travels from your liver to the kidneys by way of your bloodstream. Healthy kidneys filter the BUN by-product out of your body through urine. High BUN levels generally indicate that your kidneys are not functioning properly or you may have underlying health problems related to your cardiovascular system. In some cases, high BUN levels are acute and easily resolved with dietary changes.
Visit your physician and get an accurate diagnosis. A BUN test can be ordered as part of a comprehensive metabolic panel to determine levels and diagnose the underlying cause. To accurately treat high BUN levels your physician has to rule out or also treat additional health complications such as acute kidney failure, liver disease, hypertension or infections.
Drink plenty of fluids daily to stay hydrated. Dehydration refers to inadequate water and electrolyte balance in your cells, which can cause high BUN levels. If you are taking diuretic medications, have persistent diarrhea, lose excess fluids through sweat or do not drink enough fluids throughout the day, you may become dehydrated. Severe dehydration warrants hospitalization and intravenous fluids. Mild dehydration can resolve by increasing your water intake. Consult your physician for exact amounts based on your health status.
Eat a low-protein diet. If your kidneys are unable to filter protein properly, reduce your protein intake to lower your BUN levels. High-protein foods include red meat, poultry, fish and dairy. Beans, nuts and grains have moderate amounts of protein, and fruits generally have no protein. Consult your physician to discuss the amount of protein you need in your diet to lower BUN levels. The average daily protein intake for healthy adults ranges from 40 to 60 g, and you may need to reduce your intake by half.
Cope with stress and manage your blood pressure. In some cases, high BUN levels occur from excess stress or acute high blood pressure. Get a blood pressure check and monitor it regularly. If you have persistently high blood pressure your physician may recommend medications to stabilize it. Excess worry and stress often contribute to blood pressure changes. Seek counseling or support, and engage in relaxation exercises to lower your stress level.
Persistent bouts of frequent urination, swelling of the extremities or face, and high blood pressure are signs of poor kidney functions and warrant immediate medical attention. Certain medications like corticosteroids can increase BUN levels. Consult your physician for a list.
Prolonged dehydration can result in seizures, coma or death. Consistently high BUN levels that cause acute kidney failure may require dialysis to filter your blood of toxins.