The 7 Functions Of The Kidneys
Most people know that the primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate waste products from the body by flushing them out with urine. However, did you know that there are at least 6 other fabulous functions you should thank your kidneys for?
Shaheen Motiwala, MD is one of our nephrologist at Florida Kidney Physicians who loves to educate patients. Here is a brief overview of the 7 primary functions of the kidneys to help patients become more familiar with how these amazing organs work.
Treatment Of Advanced Or Metastatic Cancer
Surgery is sometimes used to remove cancer that has spread. The surgery is usually followed by other treatment, such as:
- medicines that stop cancer cells from growing.
These treatments may also be used without surgery.
Pain is one of the main concerns of people with advanced kidney cancer. But cancer pain can almost always be controlled. Treatments that may help include:
- Surgery. Sometimes surgery can help ease pain by removing some of the cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
- Radiation therapy and medicines for bone problems. These can help with pain from bone tumours.
- Pain medicines.
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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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.
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.
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What Do The Kidneys Do
The kidneys are highly complex organs that control substances in the blood, blood pressure, and the amount of fluid in the body. They also keep the blood clean and chemically balanced.
Acting as very efficient and specialised filters, they work to rid the body of waste and toxic substances and return vitamins, amino acids, glucose, hormones and other vital substances into the bloodstream.
Where Are The Kidneys
Most people have two kidneys, which sit deep in the abdomen in the small of the back, either side of the spine.
Shaped like a bean, each kidney weighs anywhere between 40 grams to 190 grams depending on gender and can very between left and right kidney. A kidney is about 10-15cms long.
Many people are able to lead healthy and active lives with just one functioning kidney. Some may have been born with one kidney, others may have had a kidney removed due to illness or injury and some people may have donated one of their kidneys to someone with kidney failure .
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What Is The Role Of The Kidney In Homeostasis
The kidneys play several important roles in maintaining homeostasis, including maintaining the proper blood volume and ion balance as well as removing nitrogenous wastes from the blood. The University of New Mexico explains that the kidneys also play an important role in regulating the bodys pH. The kidney primarily accomplishes these tasks by filtering impurities, metabolic wastes and salt from the blood.
According to the BBC, the kidneys are able to maintain homeostasis in part by varying the concentration of urine. For example, when the amount of water in the blood plasma is low, the kidneys reabsorb water from the urine, returning it to the blood stream. Conversely, when the amount of water in the blood plasma is high, the kidneys do not reabsorb much water, which produces highly dilute urine. Both responses help to keep the body’s water balance within the range of tolerance.
The kidneys must compensate for other biological functions and stimuli that may alter the water balance of the body, thus disrupting homeostasis. The BBC lists several such stimuli, including the external temperature, exercise and salt intake, as having the potential to change the amount of water in the body. For example, during exercise, the body’s temperature rises. The body attempts to compensate for this by sweating. However, sweat results in a net loss of water, which in turn, triggers the kidneys to reabsorb more water from the urine and return it to the bloodstream.
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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Production Of Erythropoietin :
EPO is a glycoprotein hormone produced by the fibroblasts in the renal interstitium. Kidney is the main site of production of EPO. This hormone acts on the bone marrow to stimulate RBC formation and maturation. If the patients with renal diseases do not get proper treatment, they will show profound anemia.
Why Is It Important To Take Care Of My Kidneys
Because of their vital role in keeping your body functioning, it’s important to take care of your kidneys. If you don’t protect them, you may be at risk of acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease.Key ways you can do this are to make healthy lifestyle choices, get your blood pressure checked, manage your diabetes if you have it, drink enough fluid each day and manage your medicines. Read more about how to protect your kidneys.
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What Is Kidney Function
The primary kidney function is to purify the blood by removing waste and harmful substances. The structural and functional unit of the kidney is called the nephron. Each human kidney contains more than 1 million nephrons. It is with the help of nephrons that kidneys remove metabolic waste products from the body. Another important kidney function is to regulate fluid and electrolytes balance within the body.
Nephron Basic Unit Of Kidney Function:
is parallel alignment of nephrons to perform the kidney function of purifying blood. Each individual nephron functions almost exactly the same as all other nephrons in both of the kidneys. If you clearly understand how one nephron works you would readily understand nearly everything about how the kidneys execute their functions successfully.
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Secretion Of Active Compounds
The kidneys release a number of important compounds, including:
- Erythropoietin: This controls erythropoiesis, or the production of red blood cells. The liver also produces erythropoietin, but the kidneys are its main producers in adults.
- Renin: This helps manage the expansion of arteries and the volume of blood plasma, lymph, and interstitial fluid. Lymph is a fluid that contains white blood cells, which support immune activity, and interstitial fluid is the main component of extracellular fluid.
- Calcitriol: This is the hormonally active metabolite of vitamin D. It increases both the amount of calcium that the intestines can absorb and the reabsorption of phosphate in the kidney.
Why Are The Kidneys So Important
Most people know that a major function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body. These waste products and excess fluid are removed through the urine. The production of urine involves highly complex steps of excretion and re-absorption. This process is necessary to maintain a stable balance of body chemicals.
The critical regulation of the body’s salt, potassium and acid content is performed by the kidneys. The kidneys also produce hormones that affect the function of other organs. For example, a hormone produced by the kidneys stimulates red blood cell production. Other hormones produced by the kidneys help regulate blood pressure and control calcium metabolism.
The kidneys are powerful chemical factories that perform the following functions:
- remove waste products from the body
- remove drugs from the body
- balance the body’s fluids
- release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
- control the production of red blood cells
Below you will find more information about the kidneys and the vital role they play in keeping your body functioning.
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What Are Some Of The Causes Of Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease is defined as having some type of kidney abnormality, or “marker”, such as protein in the urine and having decreased kidney function for three months or longer.
There are many causes of chronic kidney disease. The kidneys may be affected by diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Some kidney conditions are inherited .
Others are congenital that is, individuals may be born with an abnormality that can affect their kidneys. The following are some of the most common types and causes of kidney damage.
Diabetes is a disease in which your body does not make enough insulin or cannot use normal amounts of insulin properly. This results in a high blood sugar level, which can cause problems in many parts of your body. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease.
High blood pressure is another common cause of kidney disease and other complications such as heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood against your artery walls increases. When high blood pressure is controlled, the risk of complications such as chronic kidney disease is decreased.
Glomerulonephritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the kidney’s tiny filtering units called the glomeruli. Glomerulonephritis may happen suddenly, for example, after a strep throat, and the individual may get well again.However, the disease may develop slowly over several years and it may cause progressive loss of kidney function.
How The Kidneys Work
Kidneys are a pair of organs shaped like kidney beans. In children, theyre each about the size of the childs fist.
The most important job of the kidneys is to filter liquid waste from the blood and get rid of it in the form of urine. Kidneys are part of the bodys urinary system.
Each kidney contains millions of tiny structures called nephrons. The nephrons act as filters and work continuously to perform several important functions in the body:
- Filtering waste from the body
The kidneys produce urine to carry the liquid waste and extra fluid they have filtered out of your childs body. The urine travels from the kidneys through tubes called ureters to your childs bladder, where urine is stored. When your child goes to the bathroom, urine passes out through the urethra.
- Maintaining chemical and fluid balance
The kidneys help balance the chemicals in your childs blood, such as sodium, potassium and calcium, by controlling the volume of fluid in the body.
Proper balance is necessary for other systems in the body to work well. An imbalance may affect various organ systems.
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The Tubule Returns Needed Substances To Your Blood And Removes Wastes
A blood vessel runs alongside the tubule. As the filtered fluid moves along the tubule, the blood vessel reabsorbs almost all of the water, along with minerals and nutrients your body needs. The tubule helps remove excess acid from the blood. The remaining fluid and wastes in the tubule become urine.
What Are The Symptoms
Kidney cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms at first. It’s often discovered by imaging teststests that produce pictures of the inside of the bodythat are done for other reasons.
After it begins to spread, kidney cancer may cause one or more of these symptoms:
- Blood in the urine.
- A lump that can be felt in the lower back or belly.
- Pain in the side or the back.
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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.
What Are The Kidneys
A pair of bean-shaped organs, the kidneys sit in the flanks, closer to the spine than to your belly. They are located just underneath your diaphragm and rib cage. They normally range in size from 8 to 14 centimeters . Each kidney weighs between 120 grams to 170 grams . These numbers vary based on a persons size, and abnormal-sized kidneys could be a sign of kidney disease. About 380 gallons of blood flow through the kidneys every day.
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What Causes Kidney Cancer
Experts aren’t sure what causes kidney cancer. But there are certain things that make you more likely to get this cancer. Your risk is higher if you:
- Have a job that regularly exposes you to certain chemicals or minerals, such as asbestos, gasoline, and cadmium .
- Use too much pain medicine for a long time.
- Have certain inherited conditions, such as von Hippel-Lindau disease.
Clarifying The Terms: Renal Nephrology
Lets get the grammar straightened out at the outset. You might have heard the terms renal, nephrological, or others when you hear physicians talking about kidneys. The term renal is used interchangeably to refer to anything to do with the kidneys. The word comes from the Latin word for the kidneys, renes.
Similarly, nephros is the Greek term for the kidneys, while logos refers to study. Hence, nephrology is the subspecialty of medicine that deals with the management of kidney diseases, and nephrologists are specialist physicians who deal with the medical management of kidney disease, kidney transplantation, and hypertension.
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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.
What Else Do Kidneys Do
Kidneys are always busy. Besides filtering the blood and balancing fluids every second during the day, the kidneys constantly react to hormones that the brain sends them. Kidneys even make some of their own hormones. For example, the kidneys produce a hormone that tells the body to make red blood cells.
Now you know what the kidneys do and how important they are. Maybe next Valentine’s Day, instead of the same old heart, you can give your parents a special card featuring the kidneys!
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