Basic introduction to kidneys
In this, we will learn more about the structure, location, function, what happens in case of kidney damage, and how we can keep our kidneys healthy…
What are kidneys?
Your kidneys are bean-shaped reddish-brown vital organ. Survival of any individual will be hampered without it. There are present in pairs in the human body, and their main job is to cleanse the blood of toxins and remove the waste in the form of urine; along with that, they help maintain blood pressure. It is a vital part of the human excretory system.
The two kidneys tirelessly filter 200 litres of fluid every 24 hours, producing between one-and-a-half litres of urine daily. Every induvial is born with 1 set of kidneys, while in some cases, it has been seen that people born with only one kidney live a healthy and everyday life.
How do kidneys look and where are they present?
Kidneys are bean-shaped reddish-brown organ roughly the size of a closed fist, about 10-12 cm long, 5-6cm wide and 2.5-3cm thick. Kidneys are situated just below the rib cage, on either side of your vertebral column. They lie behind the peritoneum, deep in the abdominal cavity of your body. Each kidney weighs about 150-160 grams in adults. The kidney of males is 150gm, and of females is 135gm.
What are kidneys made up of?
The renal cortex, renal medulla, and renal pelvis are the three significant parts of your kidney. The nephron, found in both the renal cortex and the renal medulla, is the most important functional unit of the kidney. The study of the kidney is termed nephrology.
The kidney is divided into three main parts:
An outer renal cortex
Inner renal medulla
And renal pelvis
What are the significant functions of kidneys?
The most vital function of the kidney is to filter the blood and remove the toxins in the form of nitrogenous waste, referred to as urine. Urine enters your body through your ureters, travels to your bladder, and exits through your urethra. Through your veins, the filtered blood returns to your bloodstream.
Other essential functions that your kidneys do:
- Regulate ionic composition
Kidneys have direct control over how many ions and how much water a person excretes from the body; in this way, kidneys regulate osmolarity.
- Maintenance of blood plasma volume
Kidneys are so important that they influence your blood pressure. The kidneys regulate blood plasma volume by controlling how much water the body excretes. This directly impacts total blood volume, affecting your blood pressure.
- Regulation of plasma hydrogen ion composition (pH)
Kidneys work in association with your lungs to regulate pH. They play an important role because they control the amount of bicarbonate excreted or retained. The kidneys regulate blood pH primarily by eliminating hydrogen ions and reabsorbing bicarbonate ions as needed.
What happens if kidneys not working properly?
If kidneys are damaged or function improperly, extra fluid and waste return to your bloodstream rather than leaving your body as urine and can cause fluid and toxic waste to accumulate in your body, affecting organs such as your brain, heart, lungs, and bones.
What causes kidney damage?
The most common causes are:
- High blood sugar and cholesterol levels, along with high blood pressure
- Medication – Frequently using painkillers over a while NSAIDs.
- Damage occurs by physical injury or injury related to sporting activity.
- CKD (= Chronic Kidney Disease)
- Acute kidney disease
- Some chronic infections:
- Hepatitis C virus
- Bacterial and Viral infections
- Other infections
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic kidney disease is the most common type, affecting 10-13% of the global population. It is irreversible, progressive, and has slow damage to your kidney functions associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Patients with this condition are usually asymptomatic, with typical kidney damage complications appearing only in the later stages, and they are always at a higher risk of complications and morbidity.
Any known cure of CKD?
CKD can’t be cured, which states that kidney damage is irreversible. However, if CKD is detected early, it can be treated with the help of a qualified doctor. Even minor changes can make a significant difference in keeping your kidneys working as long as possible.
How one maintains a healthy kidney?
- Maintain Diabetes levels – Try to keep your Blood sugar levels in check.
- Stop smoking – Smoking promotes kidney fibrosis leading to a decline in kidney health, and the hardening and thickening of the arterial walls of your kidneys result from smoking.
- Control Cholesterol – If you have high cholesterol levels, you are more likely to have a reduced glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and reduce the chance of Heart attacks and strokes.
- Avoid alcohol – Drinking alcohol can disrupt the hormonal control mechanisms that govern the kidney, which changes the function of your kidneys and makes them less able to filter the blood.
- Obesity – Extra weight forces the kidneys to work harder and filter wastes above average. So, try to lose weight if you are overweight.
- Regular check-up – Keeping proper track of your health is vital as it can help you identify any early signs of health issues.
- Stay Active/Exercise – You must be active for at least 25 minutes most days of the week. You can also explore stress-reducing activities like Yoga and meditation.
- Healthful Diet – You should take a healthy balanced diet; you may also consult a Renal Dietitian for a suitable diet plan.
- Get enough sleep – It is always nice to have a good sound sleep for 8 hours; this habit can also help you fight other diseases.
- Managing blood pressure is the leading cause of Kidney damage; when blood vessels narrow, the kidney doesn’t receive enough oxygen and nutrients to function well. So, protect your kidneys by managing your blood pressure.