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Kidneys are one of the most important internal organs of the body. They are two bean-shaped organs located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Each day, the two kidneys filters blood to produce urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side of the bladder; the bladder stores urine. As the bladder fills to capacity, signals sent to the brain tell a person to find a toilet soon. When the bladder empties, urine flows out of the body through a tube called the urethra, located at the bottom of the bladder.
What are their functions?
The kidneys are important because they help remove wastes and extra fluid from the body. They also keep the composition, or makeup of the blood stable, which lets the body function.
Here are their functions:
• prevent the buildup of wastes and extra fluid in the body
• keep levels of electrolytes stable, such as sodium, potassium, and phosphate
• make hormones that help
o regulate blood pressure
o make red blood cells
o bones stay strong
How do the kidneys work?
The kidney is not one large filter. Each kidney is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron filters a small amount of blood. The nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule. The nephrons work through a two-step process. The glomerulus lets fluid and waste products pass through it; however, it prevents blood cells and large molecules, mostly proteins, from passing. The filtered fluid then passes through the tubule, which sends needed minerals back to the bloodstream and removes wastes. The final product becomes urine. Each kidney is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons.
Points to Remember
• Every day, the two kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid.
• The kidneys are important because they keep the composition, or makeup, of the blood stable, which lets the body function.
• Each kidney is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. The nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule.
• The nephrons work through a two-step process. The glomerulus lets fluid and waste products pass through it; however, it prevents blood cells and large molecules, mostly proteins, from passing. The filtered fluid then passes through the tubule, which sends needed minerals back to the bloodstream and removes wastes.
Kidney conditions
• Pyelonephritis (infection of kidney pelvis): Bacteria may infect the kidney, usually causing back pain and fever. A spread of bacteria from an untreated bladder infection is the most common cause of pyelonephritis.
• Glomerulonephritis: An overactive immune system may attack the kidney, causing inflammation and some damage. Blood and protein in the urine are common problems that occur with glomerulonephritis. It can also result in kidney failure.
• Kidney stones (nephrolithiasis): Minerals in urine form crystals (stones), which may grow large enough to block urine flow. It’s considered one of the most painful conditions. Most kidney stones pass on their own but some are too large and need to be treated.
• Nephrotic syndrome: Damage to the kidneys causes them to spill large amounts of protein into the urine. Leg swelling (edema) may be a symptom.
• Polycystic kidney disease: A genetic condition resulting in large cysts in both kidneys that impair their function.
• Acute renal failure (kidney failure): A sudden worsening in kidney function. Dehydration, a blockage in the urinary tract, or kidney damage can cause acute renal failure, which may be reversible.
• Chronic renal failure: A permanent partial loss of kidney function. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes.
• End stage renal disease (ESRD): Complete loss of kidney function, usually due to progressive chronic kidney disease. People with ESRD require regular dialysis for survival.
• Papillary necrosis: Severe damage to the kidneys can cause chunks of kidney tissue to break off internally and clog the kidneys. If untreated, the resulting damage can lead to total kidney failure.
• Diabetic nephropathy: High blood sugar from diabetes progressively damages the kidneys, eventually causing chronic kidney disease. Protein in the urine (nephrotic syndrome) may also result.
• Hypertensive nephropathy: Kidney damage caused by high blood pressure. Chronic renal failure may eventually result.
• Kidney cancer: Renal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer affecting the kidney. Smoking is the most common cause of kidney cancer.
• Interstitial nephritis: Inflammation of the connective tissue inside the kidney, often causing acute renal failure. Allergic reactions and drug side effects are the usual causes.
• Minimal change disease: A form of nephrotic syndrome in which kidney cells look almost normal under the microscope. The disease can cause significant leg swelling (edema). Steroids are used to treat minimal change disease.
• Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus: The kidneys lose the ability to concentrate the urine, usually due to a drug reaction. Although it’s rarely dangerous, diabetes insipidus causes constant thirst and frequent urination.
• Renal cyst: A benign hollowed-out space in the kidney. Isolated kidney cysts occur in many normal people and almost never impair kidney function.
Remember, the kidney is a vital organ of the body and have to be taken great care of. So do well to visit your doctor regularly for medical check-up and use the toilet anytime your bladder gets filled up, you might be saving your kidney.

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