Understanding your Kidneys
All the blood in our body passes through the kidneys several times a day.
Kineys are a pair of fist size organs located in the back of the abdomen.
- Filters the Blood
- Removes Waste
- Controls the body's Fluid Balance
- Regulates the balance of Electrolytes.
Kidneys Create Urine as they Filter Blood
Each kidney contains around a million called nephrons (a microscopic filter for blood).
It's possible to lose as much as 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms
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A benign hollowed-out space in the kidney. Isolated kidney cysts occur in many normal people and almost never impair kidney function.
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.
Overactive immune system may attack the kidney, causing inflammation and damage. May also result in kidney failure. Blood and protein in the urine are common problems that occur.
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.
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
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.
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.
High blood sugar from diabetes progressively damages the kidneys, eventually causing chronic kidney disease. Protein in the urine (nephrotic syndrome) may also result.
Kidney damage caused by high blood pressure. Chronic renal failure may eventually result.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer affecting the kidney. Smoking is the most common cause of kidney cancer.
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.
Some kidney stones may be shattered into small pieces done by a machine that projects ultrasound shock waves through the body.
Artificial filtering of the blood to replace the lost function of damaged kidneys. Hemodialysis is the most common method of dialysis in the U.S.
Surgery to remove a kidney. Nephrectomy is performed for kidney cancer or severe kidney damage.
A person with complete kidney failure is connected to a dialysis machine, which filters the blood and returns it to the body. Hemodialysis is typically done three days per week in people with ESRD.
Placing large amounts of a special fluid in the abdomen through a catheter, allows the body to filter the blood using the natural membrane lining the abdomen. After a while the fluid with the waste is drained and discarded.
Transplanting a kidney into a person with ESRD can restore kidney function. A kidney may be transplanted from a living or a recently deceased donor.