Where Are The Kidneys And How Do They Function
There are two kidneys, each about the size of a fist, located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage. Each kidney contains up to a million functioning units called nephrons. A nephron consists of a filtering unit of tiny blood vessels called a glomerulus attached to a tubule. When blood enters the glomerulus, it is filtered and the remaining fluid then passes along the tubule. In the tubule, chemicals and water are either added to or removed from this filtered fluid according to the body’s needs, the final product being the urine we excrete.
The kidneys perform their life-sustaining job of filtering and returning to the bloodstream about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours. About two quarts are removed from the body in the form of urine, and about 198 quarts are recovered. The urine we excrete has been stored in the bladder for anywhere from 1 to 8 hours.
Four Key Concepts And Talking Points
1. Talk to patients about their kidneys, CKD, and their risk.
What is CKD? CKD means the kidneys are damaged and may no longer filter blood well. This damage happens over many years. As more damage occurs, the kidneys are unable to keep the body healthy – then dialysis or a kidney transplant may be needed to maintain health.
How can I lower my risk for CKD? The steps you take to manage your diabetes and high blood pressure also help protect your kidneys. Choosing healthy foods, quitting smoking, and being more physically active are all important steps.
2. Communicate the importance of testing and how CKD is diagnosed.
What are the symptoms of CKD? Most people with CKD have no symptoms until their kidneys are about to fail. The only way to know if you have kidney disease is to get tested. The sooner kidney disease is found, the sooner you can take steps to begin treatment and keep your kidneys healthier longer.
How do you check for CKD? A blood test and a urine test are used to find kidney disease. Because you are at risk, you should get these tests regularly:
- GFR – A blood test measures how much blood your kidneys filter each minute, which is known as your glomerular filtration rate .
- Urine Albumin – A urine test checks for albumin in your urine. Albumin is a protein that can pass into the urine when the filters in the kidneys are damaged.
3. Explain the progressive nature of CKD and the basics of treatment.
4. Begin to speak about dialysis and transplantation.
Where Are My Kidneys
The kidneys are small bean-shaped organs approximately 6 cm wide and 12 cm long and consist of two main layers an inner layer called the medulla and an outer layer called the cortex. Most people have two kidneys that are situated at the back of the abdomen on either side of the spine.
Graphic showing a section through the right kidney with the main structures labelled.
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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 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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Hypertension And Kidney Health
Hypertension which is another name for high blood pressure is the No. 2 cause of chronic kidney disease in the United States. In fact, 80 percent to 85 percent of people with chronic kidney disease have hypertension.
Chronic kidney disease can cause hypertension likewise, hypertension can cause chronic kidney disease. Regardless of which came first, its vital to have blood pressure well-controlled and to take medications that help off-load pressure on the kidney.
How Is Kidney Failure Treated
Kidney failure treatment is determined by the cause and extent of the problem. Treating your chronic medical condition can delay the progression of kidney disease. If your kidneys start losing their function gradually, your doctor may use one or more methods to track your health. By watching you closely, your doctor can help you maintain your kidneys function as long as possible.
Your doctor may gauge your kidney function with:
- Routine blood tests
- Blood pressure checks
Because the kidneys serve such an important purpose, people in kidney failure need treatment to keep them alive. The main treatments for kidney failure are:
- Dialysis: This treatment helps the body filter the blood .
- In hemodialysis, a machine regularly cleans your blood for you. People often receive this kidney failure treatment at a hospital or dialysis clinic, 3 or 4 days each week.
- Peritoneal dialysis cleans the blood in a slightly different way using a dialysis solution and a catheter. Sometimes, people can do their treatment at home.
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Kidney Parts And Functions
For each kidney:
- Renal arterythe large artery that carries blood from the heart to the kidneys to be cleaned
- Nephronsmillions of these tiny filtration centers exist throughout the kidneys
- Glomerulusa special strainer inside each nephron that keeps the blood cells and necessary substances in your blood and filters extra fluid and waste out
- Ureterthe tube from the bladder that allows urine to exit your body. Urine is made as kidneys filter out excess fluid and waste
Kidney And Urinary System Parts And Their Functions
Two kidneys. This pair of purplish-brown organs is located below the ribs toward the middle of the back. Their function is to:
Remove waste products and drugs from the body
Balance the body’s fluids
Release hormones to regulate blood pressure
Control production of red blood cells
The kidneys remove urea from the blood through tiny filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a ball formed of small blood capillaries, called a glomerulus, and a small tube called a renal tubule. Urea, together with water and other waste substances, forms the urine as it passes through the nephrons and down the renal tubules of the kidney.
Two sphincter muscles. These circular muscles help keep urine from leaking by closing tightly like a rubber band around the opening of the bladder.
Nerves in the bladder. The nerves alert a person when it is time to urinate, or empty the bladder.
Urethra. This tube allows urine to pass outside the body. The brain signals the bladder muscles to tighten, which squeezes urine out of the bladder. At the same time, the brain signals the sphincter muscles to relax to let urine exit the bladder through the urethra. When all the signals occur in the correct order, normal urination occurs.
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Symptoms You Could Experience With Elevated Creatinine And Urea Levels
High creatinine levels can cause you to feel confused, be extremely tired, have difficulty breathing or be dehydrated. High urea levels can produce fatigue, nausea, insomnia, dry skin and body odor. High levels of urea are generally not toxic, but high levels of both of these can indicate that the functioning of your kidneys is poor. If you feel you are having these symptoms, the best way to know if you are having any trouble with your kidneys is to see your doctor so they can test out your kidney function numbers with renal function labs.
How Some Conditions Affect The Functioning Of Your Kidneys
There are several conditions that are likely to affect the ability of your kidneys to function properly. Some of these can lead to a fast decline in kidney function while others are a slow and gradual decline. They both, however can result in the build-up of the toxic waste in your blood. The renal function labs that your doctor can give you will help to determine the levels of thesesubstances that are present that your kidneys normally regulate. This will help to find out the cause and extent of your kidney dysfunction.
Your doctor will use your kidney function numbers in various ways. When theyve made the diagnosis that there is kidney disease and what kind of disease is causing the problem, they might recommend to you a specific treatment. Even though there isnt any drug therapy that will specifically prevent your kidney disease from progressing, your doctor can make other recommendations for treatments which will slow the disease as much as possible. One thing your doctor can do is to prescribe medication for blood pressure, or diabetes treatments. If your kidney disease is getting worse, your doctor can talk to you about hemodialysis, or the cleansing of your blood by taking out the excess minerals, fluids and wastes. Your doctor may even speak with you about a kidney transplant surgery.
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Why Kidney Health Is Vital To Your Overall Well
In ancient times the kidneys were viewed as the seat of feelings, conscience, and yearnings and the source of morality and ethical activity. The kidneys were associated with the innermost parts of a persons personality and well-being. While we know now that kidneys have no direct role in shaping our ethics, emotions and personality, these two bean-shaped organs are nonetheless vital to our well-being.
The kidney is a remarkably intricate organ that acts as the filter system of the body. Just as important, your kidneys also work to keep the whole body in a state of chemical balance. The kidneys regulate the substances, helpful and harmful, that float around in the body and keeps them within very tight parameters so the body can function as a well-oiled machine. This is called renal function.
You cannot live without proper renal function, even if the kidneys are assisted artificially. Life would not continue without the many functions these organs perform.
The kidney is the major player in the regulation of your blood pressure, and the make-up of the blood. Maintaining many hormones that are vital to our very existence, the kidneys even produce hormones that tell bones when to make more blood cells.
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.
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What Is Kidney Failure
Kidney failure means one or both kidneys can no longer function well on their own. Sometimes, kidney failure is temporary and comes on quickly. Other times, it is a chronic condition that can get worse slowly over a long time.
Kidney failure may sound serious, and it is. But treatments such as dialysis and kidney transplant help many people with limited kidney function continue to live fulfilling lives.
Potatoes And Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are potassium-rich vegetables.
Just one medium-sized baked potato contains 610 mg of potassium, whereas one average-sized baked sweet potato contains 541 mg of potassium .
Fortunately, some high potassium foods, including potatoes and sweet potatoes, can be soaked or leached to reduce their potassium contents.
Cutting potatoes into small, thin pieces and boiling them for at least 10 minutes can reduce the potassium content by about 50% .
Potatoes that are soaked in water for at least 4 hours before cooking are proven to have an even lower potassium content than those not soaked before cooking .
This method is known as potassium leaching or the double-cook method.
Although double cooking potatoes lowers the potassium content, its important to remember that their potassium content isnt eliminated by this method.
Considerable amounts of potassium can still be present in double-cooked potatoes, so its best to practice portion control to keep potassium levels in check.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are high potassium vegetables. Boiling or double cooking potatoes can decrease their potassium content by about 50%.
Tomatoes are another high potassium fruit that may not fit the guidelines of a renal diet.
They can be served raw or stewed and are often used to make sauces.
Just 1 cup of tomato sauce can contain upwards of 900 mg of potassium .
Unfortunately for those on a renal diet, tomatoes are commonly used in many dishes.
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What Is The Kidney Function
The kidneys job is to filter your blood. They remove wastes, control the bodys fluid balance, and keep the right levels of electrolytes. All of the blood in your body passes through them several times a day. Blood comes into the kidney, waste gets removed, and salt, water, and minerals are adjusted, if needed.
How Is Chronic Kidney Disease Detected
Early detection and treatment of chronic kidney disease are the keys to keeping kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure. Some simple tests can be done to detect early kidney disease. They are:
It is especially important that people who have an increased risk for chronic kidney disease have these tests. You may have an increased risk for kidney disease if you:
- are older
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Should You Check Your Kidney Function
If youre concerned about symptoms that youre experiencing, its important to make a trip to your doctor for a check-up.
If you simply want to know a bit more about your kidney health, you have the option to take a kidney function test from the comfort of your own home. With LetsGetCheckeds Kidney Function Test you can monitor your kidney function and performance and receive your online results within 5 days.
You should consider taking a Kidney Function Test if any of the below are applicable to you:
- You suffer from high blood pressure
- You suffer from diabetes
Various Kidney Function Tests
There are as mentioned several different kidney function labs that your doctor can run to find out your kidney function numbers. A common and inexpensive one is a routine urinalysis, which is usually the first test that is ran if you have suspected kidney problems. It is checked for things such as odor, appearance, color and concentration, plus chemically for substances like glucose, protein and the pH. Plus it is microscopically tested for the presence of elements such as white and red blood cells and epithelial cells, crystals, bacteria, and casts. If the results from this test indicate the possibility of kidney disease or an impaired kidney, your doctor will run additional tests such as a urea clearance test, creatinine clearance test, urine osmolality test, urine protein test, creatinine test, blood urea nitrogen test and other blood tests.
Catching any dysfunction or failing of your kidneys as soon as possible is very important, so you should be aware of your kidney function numbers. You can do this by asking for it to be checked during routine physicals at your doctor when they are already taking a urine test. Keeping on top of your health can help catch any problems early on so you can better treat any problems that may come up.
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Can Kidney Failure Be Prevented
While kidney failure from chronic kidney disease cant be reversed, you can do many things to help preserve the kidney function you have today. Healthy habits and routines may slow down how quickly kidneys lose their functional abilities.
If you have chronic kidney disease or kidney failure, youll want to:
- Monitor your kidney function, with your doctors help.
- Keep your blood sugar levels under control, if you have diabetes.
- Keep your blood pressure levels in a normal range.
- Avoid smoking.
- Make healthy diet choices, such as limiting foods high in protein and sodium.