What Is It Like To Live With One Kidney Instead Of Two
Your kidneys filter out waste and extra fluid from your blood so it can be excreted from your body in your urine.
One kidney can filter enough blood to keep your body functioning normally. This is why you can survive and be healthy with only one kidney.
The recommendations for healthy living if you have only one kidney are basically the same for people with two kidneys. They include:
Your kidneys play a role in maintaining fluid balance in your body, keeping protein in your blood, and controlling your blood pressure.
If your kidneys stop working, you may:
- lose protein in your urine
- retain fluid
Most people with a single kidney live a normal life without developing any long- or short-term problems.
However, the risk of developing mild high blood pressure, fluid retention, and proteinuria is slightly higher if you have one kidney instead of two. This is because a second kidney can compensate and make up for a kidney that has lost some function.
Since it has no backup, the loss of function of a single kidney could lead to proteinuria, fluid retention, or high blood pressure earlier than if you had two kidneys.
What Are The Parts Of The Urinary Tract
People usually have two kidneys, but can live a normal, healthy life with just one. The kidneys are under the ribcage in the back, one on each side. Each adult kidney is about the size of a fist.
Each kidney has an outer layer called the cortex, which contains filtering units. The center part of the kidney, the medulla , has fan-shaped structures called pyramids. These drain urine into cup-shaped tubes called calyxes .
From the calyxes, pee travels out of the kidneys through the ureters to be stored in the bladder . When a person urinates, the pee exits the bladder and goes out of the body through the urethra , another tube-like structure. The male urethra ends at the tip of the penis the female urethra ends just above the vaginal opening.
Why Do We Have Two Kidneys
Brooke Huuskes – Lecturer in Human Anatomy, Physiology Anatomy & Microbiology, La Trobe University
This piece is part of the The Conversation’s Curious Kids series for children.
Why do we have two kidneys when we can live with only one? Question from the students of Ms Morris Grade 5 class, Ringwood North Primary School, Victoria.
This is a really great question. The answer is scientists are not completely sure but we do have some theories. That is often the case with science.
Most of the animals you see above ground on Earth today, including humans, are the same on both sides. We have two eyes, two ears, and even two nostrils. Scientists gave this a fancy name called bilateral symmetry.
If you look in the mirror and draw an imaginary line down the middle of your reflection you will see that you have an arm and a leg on each side. If you had goggles that let you see your insides, you would see that you also have a kidney and a lung on each side too.
But it wasnt always like this. And some animals still only have one kidney.
Around 500 million years ago, our long-lost relatives that were living in the ocean decided to leave the water to walk and live on land.
This was a very important moment in our history because on land, animals could change to grow a very complicated body with all of the important organs that are inside you, including two kidneys.
Two kidneys better than one?
Growing up with one kidney
Needing an extra kidney
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Kidneys Are A Filter System
The main job of the kidneys is to remove waste from the blood and return the cleaned blood back to the body. Each minute about one litre of blood one-fifth of all the blood pumped by the heart enters the kidneys through the renal arteries. After the blood is cleaned, it flows back into the body through the renal veins.
Each kidney contains about one million tiny units called nephrons. Each nephron is made up of a very small filter, called a glomerulus, which is attached to a tubule. As blood passes through the nephron, fluid and waste products are filtered out. Much of the fluid is then returned to the blood, while the waste products are concentrated in any extra fluid as urine .
The urine flows through a tube called the ureter into the bladder. Urine passes from the bladder out of the body through a tube called the urethra. The kidney usually makes one to two litres of urine every day depending on your build, how much you drink, the temperature and the amount of exercise you do.
A healthy kidney can greatly increase its work capacity. With two healthy kidneys, each kidney performs 50 per cent of the normal kidney function. If one kidney is lost, the other kidney can enlarge and provide up to 75 per cent of the normal kidney function .
What Causes Kidney Damage
Your kidneys perform several important functions within your body. Many different disorders can affect them. Common conditions that impact your kidneys include:
- Chronic kidney disease: Chronic kidney disease may lessen your kidney function. Diabetes or high blood pressure usually causes CKD.
- Kidney cancer: Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer.
- Kidney failure : Kidney failure may be acute or chronic . End-stage renal disease is a complete loss of kidney function. It requires dialysis .
- Kidney infection : A kidney infection can occur if bacteria enter your kidneys by traveling up your ureters. These infections cause sudden symptoms. Healthcare providers treat them with antibiotics.
- Kidney stones: Kidney stones cause crystals to form in your urine and may block urine flow. Sometimes these stones pass on their own. In other cases, healthcare providers can offer treatment to break them up or remove them.
- Kidney cysts: Fluid-filled sacs called kidney cysts grow on your kidneys. These cysts can cause kidney damage. Healthcare providers can remove them.
- Polycystic kidney disease: Polycystic kidney disease causes cysts to form on your kidneys. PKD is a genetic condition. It may lead to high blood pressure and kidney failure. People with PKD need regular medical monitoring.
Countless other disorders can affect your kidneys. Some of these conditions include:
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Being A Living Kidney Donor
If you have two healthy kidneys, you may be able to donate one of your kidneys to enhance or save someone else’s life. Both you and the recipient of your kidney can live with just one healthy kidney.
If you are interested in living kidney donation:
- Contact the transplant center where a transplant candidate is registered.
- You will need to have an evaluation at the transplant center to make sure that you are a good match for the person you want to donate to and that you are healthy enough to donate.
- If you are a match, healthy and willing to donate, you and the recipient can schedule the transplant at a time that works for both of you.
- If you are not a match for the intended recipient, but still want to donate your kidney so that the recipient you know can receive a kidney that is a match, paired kidney exchange may be an option for you.
Another way to donate a kidney while you are alive is to give a kidney to someone you do not necessarily know. This is called living non-directed donation. If you are interested in donating a kidney to someone you do not know, the transplant center might ask you to donate a kidney when you are a match for someone who is waiting for a kidney in your area, or as part of kidney paired donation. You will never be forced to donate.
What Do The Kidneys Do
The kidneys have several jobs. One of the most important is helping your body eliminate toxins. The kidneys filter your blood and send waste out of your body in urine.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of your fist. They sit under your ribcage, toward your back. Most people have two working kidneys, but people can live well as long as at least one is working correctly.
When the kidneys dont work effectively, waste products build up in your body. If this happens, you might feel sick. In the most serious situations, kidney failure can be life-threatening. However, many people can manage kidney failure with the right treatment.
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One Kidney Can’t Hurt
In the Netherlands, fifty to eighty children are born with a solitary functioning kidney every year. For a long time it was thought that having one kidney can do no harm. In fact, each year an average of 500 people donate their kidney to a neighbor or stranger. They generally live on without complications. There was no reason to assume that this would be different for a congenital solitary functioning kidney. But PhD research by Michiel Schreuder, now Professor of Pediatric Nephrology at Radboud university medical center, showed that a solitary functioning kidney from birth does have major consequences in some people.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you start to notice signs like changes in your urine output, brain fog, or high blood pressure, see your healthcare provider.
If you have diabetes or heart disease and start to notice symptoms like the ones mentioned above or other signs that werent there before , also see your healthcare provider.
Both high blood pressure and high blood sugar can contribute to kidney disease and kidney failure. Seeing your healthcare provider early on, when you first notice symptoms, and starting treatment can make a difference in your prognosis .
What Are The Kidneys
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that filter your blood. Your kidneys are part of your urinary system.
Your kidneys filter about 200 quarts of fluid every day enough to fill a large bathtub. During this process, your kidneys remove waste, which leaves your body as urine . Most people pee about two quarts daily. Your body re-uses the other 198 quarts of fluid.
Your kidneys also help balance your bodys fluids and electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential minerals that include sodium and potassium.
Biobank For Research Into Congenital Disorders
For his research, Sander Groen in ‘t Woud scoured the entire country looking for children with a single kidney. He found almost a thousand of them. Their data is stored in the AGORA data and biobank at Radboud university medical center, coordinated by Groen in ‘t Woud and fellow researcher Loes van der Zanden. She explains: ‘In AGORA biobank we collect data from children and adults with various congenital disorders, for example of the lip and palate or the heart. But the largest group is children with kidney or urinary tract disorders.
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What Is An Ectopic Kidney
An ectopic kidney is a kidney located below, above, or on the opposite side of the kidneys normal position in the urinary tract. The two kidneys are usually located near the middle of your back, just below your rib cage, on either side of your spine.
An ectopic kidney usually doesnt cause any symptoms or health problems, and many people never find out that they have the condition. If an ectopic kidney is discovered, it is usually found during a fetal ultrasoundan imaging test that uses sound waves to create a picture of how a baby is developing in the wombor during medical tests done to check for a urinary tract infection or to find the cause of abdominal pain. Rarely does a person have two ectopic kidneys.
In the womb, a fetuss kidneys first develop as small buds in the lower abdomen inside the pelvis. During the first 8 weeks of growth, the fetuss kidneys slowly move from the pelvis to their normal position in the back near the rib cage. When an ectopic kidney occurs during growth, the kidney
- stays in the pelvis near the bladder
- stops moving up too early and stays in the lower abdomen
- moves too high up in the abdomen
- crosses over the center of the body and often grows into, or joins, the other kidney, with both kidneys on the same side of the body
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Whats Expected After Duplex Kidney Is Treated
The amount of recovery time needed after surgery depends on the procedure performed and the age of the patient. Children usually need one to two days in the hospital for recovery, then continued rest at home for one to two weeks.
An ultrasound of your kidney is usually done four to six weeks after surgery.
No long-term problems with kidney function or sexual function will result from treatment.
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How Is Kidney Failure Diagnosed
Doctors use a variety of tests to measure kidney function and diagnose kidney failure. If your doctors suspect you may be at risk for kidney failure, they may recommend:
- Blood tests, which can show how well the kidneys are removing waste from the blood.
- Advanced imaging, which can show kidney abnormalities or obstructions .
- Urine tests, which measure the amount of urine or specific substances in the urine, such as protein or blood.
What Are The First Signs Of Kidney Problems
Most kidney problems dont have signs in their early stages. As kidney damage progresses, you may notice:
- Cramping muscles: Electrolyte imbalances cause your muscles to stiffen.
- Dark urine or urine with blood in it: Damage to your kidneys filters lets blood cells leak into your urine.
- Foamy urine: Bubbles in your pee can signal excess protein.
- Itchy, dry skin: An imbalance of minerals and nutrients in your blood leads to itchy skin.
- More frequent urination: Problems filtering waste cause you to pee more often.
- Puffy eyes or swollen ankles and feet: Reduced kidney function can cause your body to hold onto protein and sodium, resulting in swelling.
- Sleep problems, fatigue and lack of appetite: If toxins build up in your blood, your sleep, appetite and energy levels may be off.
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How Many People Have Four Kidneys
More than realise it. People with extra kidneys are often oblivious to their excess baggage, and only discover it after an ultrasound scan or surgery for a more urgent medical problem. Laura Moon, an 18-year-old from Whinmoor near Leeds, heard of her bonus kidneys during an ultrasound to investigate recurrent stomach pains. Her case is particularly unusual, as each of her kidneys appears to be fully formed, at around 11cm long.
“It’s extremely rare for additional kidneys to be complete. One in a million is probably about right,” says Niaz Ahmad, a transplant surgeon at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds. “I’ve seen thousands of kidneys and I’ve never seen this.”
The condition is caused by a glitch in the first trimester, when the developing kidneys split in two. It is more common for these “duplex kidneys” to split only partially, or to grow a second ureter . Moon is having tests to check her four kidneys all work properly. If they do, she may be able to donate one or two.
Duplex kidneys occur in 1% of the population, the most common complication being infections caused by urine flowing back up to the ureter. But some patients have been delighted with their extra organs. Two Latvian brothers found to have four kidneys each said it explained why they were able to drink their friends under the table.
How Do My Kidneys Work
Each of your kidneys is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule. The nephrons work through a two-step process: the glomerulus filters your blood, and the tubule returns needed substances to your blood and removes wastes.
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Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy
Well-functioning kidneys are essential to your overall health. Early detection of kidney disease can be life-saving. Medication and changes to lifestyle, along with an early referral to a kidney specialist, can prevent or delay kidney failure.
If you are at increased risk of chronic kidney disease, talk to your doctor about having a regular kidney health check.
Are Home Remedies Effective For Kidney Stones
For some people who have had many kidney stones, home care may be appropriate. When passing a kidney stone, drinking lots of fluid is important. In fact, this is the most important home care measure. Medications may help control the pain . However, if it is the first time one has had symptoms suggestive of a kidney stone, it is important to see a doctor right away.
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Everything Else Which Comes In Pairs
These form from the mesoderm or ectoderm.
Even the brain and heart are paired organs, the heart starts as two organs and fused during embryonic development. The whole circulatory system starts perfectly paired, but then specific parts close off to create the complex circulatory system of higher animals so we can have a high pressure section and low pressure section.
The spine is also sort of singular but is basically the the line splitting the left from right half of the body. Everything that branches off the spine does so in pairs.
The real questions is why you have two lungs and one spleen. They are the only organs that breaks the rules. The lungs are an outgrowth of the digestive tract and the endoderm, but is paired. The spleen is part of the circulatory system, but singular. Now the most primitive lungs are singular, it split later likely as animals got larger and needed more lung capacity and also needed a tight connection with circulatory system . The spleen is the weird one, and likely harkens all the way back to before vertebrates existed, it predates the closed circulatory system, and develops on the midline of the body just like the spine and digestive organs. Just like how the spine is the midline dividing the nervous system into pairs the spleen divides the circulatory system into pairs.
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