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Know you Kidneys

What is a kidney?

Your kidneys are bean shaped reddish-brown organs. There are two kidneys in the human body, their main job is to cleanse the blood of toxins and remove the waste in the form of urine.

The two kidneys work together tirelessly to filter 200 liters of fluid every 24 hours and produce between one and one-and-a-half liters of urine per day.

Where is my kidney located?

Your kidneys are one of the most important excretory organs located just below the rib cage, one on either side of your vertebral column. They lie behind the peritoneum deep in the abdominal cavity in your body.

What is the size of my kidney?

Each kidney is roughly the size of a closed fist about 10-12 cm long, 5-6cm wide and 2.5-3cm thick.

Both the kidneys are not equal in size by nature. Your right kidney is slightly larger than the left, but some people are born with a larger left kidney. The two kidneys are quite close to each other in size with difference being less than one centimeter.

What is the weight of my kidney?

Each kidney weighs about 150-160 grams in adults. The kidney of males is 150gm and of females is 135gm.

The weight of your kidneys depends on the total body surface area. Normally, women have smaller surface area than men, so the kidneys are small according to the body proportions and have less weight.

 Your right kidney is slightly lower than the left kidney to accommodate your liver on the right side

What are my kidneys Made up of

Each of your kidney has three major parts of the kidney are the renal cortex, renal medulla, and renal pelvis. The most important functional unit of the kidney is the nephron which is located in both the renal cortex and the renal medulla.

Your kidneys are divided into three parts: –

  • An outer renal cortex –
  • An inner Renal medulla
  • Renal pelvis.

The renal cortex is reddish in color present at periphery of the kidney. The main function of the cortex is to filter your blood.

The renal medulla is pale in color present in the deeper parts of the kidney and contains the 10-15 renal pyramids, where urine formation takes place. Urine passes from the renal pyramids into the renal pelvis and then it is removed out of the kidney through thin tube-like structure ureter.

Function of your Kidney

Your kidneys are the multitaskers, they don’t just clean your blood, they also play other vital roles in your overall health. They have many important functions.

On a daily basis, your kidneys work to: 

On a daily basis, your kidneys work to:

To Regulate Ionic Composition

Ions such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphates are regulated by the amount that the kidney excretes. Regulation of plasma osmolarity. The kidneys regulate osmolarity because they have direct control over how many ions and how much water a person excretes out of the body.

Maintain Plasma Volume

Your kidneys are so important they even have an effect on your blood pressure. The kidneys control blood plasma volume by controlling how much water a person excretes. The volume has a direct effect on the total blood volume, which has a direct effect on your blood pressure.

Regulate Plasma hydrogen ion concentration (pH)

Your kidneys partner up with the lungs and together they control the ph. They play a major role because they control the amount of bicarbonate excreted or held onto. The kidneys help maintain the blood Ph mainly by excreting hydrogen ions and reabsorbing bicarbonate ions as needed.

Removal of Metabolic waste products and foreign substance from the plasma

One of the most important things your kidneys excrete is nitrogenous waste. It excretes ammonia, creatinine and uric acid.

As your liver breaks down amino acids it also releases ammonia. The liver then quickly combines that ammonia with carbon dioxide, creating urea which is the primary nitrogenous end product of metabolism in your body. The liver turns the ammonia into urea because it is a much less toxic substance.

Uric acid comes from the breakdown of nucleotides. Uric acid is insoluble and too much uric acid in your blood will build up and form crystals that can collect in the joints and cause gout.

Secretion of Hormones

The endocrine system has assistance from the kidney’s when releasing hormones.

Three hormones secreted by the kidneys: –

Renin:
Renin
is a hormone released by your kidneys. Renin leads to the secretion of aldosterone which is released from the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland. Aldosterone promotes the kidneys to reabsorb the sodium (Na+) ions.

Your kidneys also secrete erythropoietin when the blood doesn’t have the capacity to carry oxygen. Erythropoietin stimulates red blood cell production.

Vitamin D from the skin is also activated with help from the kidneys. Calcium (Ca+) absorption from the digestive tract is promoted by vitamin D.

You should take good care of your Kidney health as it contributes to overall body health.

How do my Kidney Work?

Blood enters the kidneys through an artery from the heart. Blood is cleaned by passing through millions of tiny blood filters present in the Nephron. Waste material passes through the ureter and is stored in the bladder as urine. Newly cleaned blood returns to the bloodstream by way of veins.

How important are my kidneys?

Your kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. Your kidneys also remove acid that is produced by the cells of your body and maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals—such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium—in your blood.

Without this balance, nerves, muscles, and other tissues in your body may not work normally.

Your kidneys also make hormones that help you to:

  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Make erythropoietin hormone to produce red blood cells.
  • Make an active form of Vitamin D to Keep your bones strong and healthy.

What can damage my kidneys?

Most common causes of kidney damage are:

  1. High levels of Blood Pressure, Diabetes & Cholesterol.
  2. Certain Medicines – Don’t overuse over-the-counter painkillers or NSAIDs.
  3. Severe Chronic Infections –
    • HIV
    • Hepatitis C Virus
    • Bacterial & Viral infections
    • Others

What could happen if kidney diseases are not treated in time?

As the blood moves through your body, it carries extra fluid, chemicals and waste materials

If kidney diseases are not treated on time, toxic substances like present in your blood will not be excreted out and may cause damage to other organs of your body.

What are the Early signs of kidney disease?

The most common early signs of kidney disease that you will notice are:

  • Dizziness and Fatigue – One of the first possible signs of weakening kidneys is the experience of overall weakness in yourself and your overall health.
  • Swelling (Edema) – Failing kidneys don’t remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or hands.
  • Changes in urination – You may see sudden changes in urination and may notice changes in the color of the urine. When kidneys are failing, the increased concentration and accumulation of substances in urine lead to a darker color which may be brown, red or purple.

   If you notice any of these signs, you should immediately consult a doctor.

What can you do to keep your kidney healthy?

10 simple ways to take care of your kidney health: –

  1. Maintain Diabetes levels Try to keep your Blood sugar levels within the target range.
  2. Stop smoking By smoking you promote kidney fibrosis leading to decline in kidney health Hardening and thickening of the arterial walls of your kidneys results from smoking.
  3. Control Cholesterol If you have high cholesterol levels than you are more likely to have reduced glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and reduce the chance of Heart attacks and strokes.
  4. Avoid alcohol Drinking alcohol can disrupt your hormonal control mechanisms that govern kidney, that changes the function of your kidneys and makes them less able to filter the blood.
  5. Exercise Maintain a healthy body weight. Extra weight forces the kidneys to work harder and filter wastes above the normal level. So, lose weight if you are overweight.
  6. Regular check-up It is important to keep a proper track of your health as it can help you identify any early signs of health issues. It is important to make physical activity part of your daily routine.
  7. Stay Active You must be active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can also explore stress reducing activities like Yoga and meditation.
  8. Healthful Diet You should take a healthy balanced diet; you may also consult a Renal Dietitian for a suitable diet plan.
  9. Get enough sleep It is always nice to have good sound sleep for 8 hours, this habit can help you fight other diseases also.
  10. Manage blood pressure It is the leading cause of Kidney damage, when blood vessels become narrow, the kidney doesn’t receive enough oxygen and nutrients to function well. So, protect your kidneys by managing your blood pressure.

Can I live with one Kidney

You can live with one healthy kidney.

 Most people are born with two kidneys, but some people are born with just one. If one of our kidneys stops working, then the other starts working double. So, it is possible to live a healthy and active life with only one functioning kidney.

If you wish to donate one of your kidneys to someone for transplant, you can live your life normally without any complications

Does anyone have three kidneys?

In rare instances, people can be born with three kidneys. It is a very uncommon condition, with fewer than 100 cases reported in medical literature, according to a 2013 report. The sizes of the kidneys may vary, they can be of same size like normal kidney or fused.

Generally, it is seen that people with three kidneys don’t know they have it unless discovered by accident through unrelated medical tests. A person having three kidneys may not have any specific symptoms and can live a normal happy life.

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