Basic Kidney Education
- Most people have two kidneys, which are the size of their fist.
- Your kidneys are located on either side of the back bone, just below the rib cage.
What do they do?
- Each kidney has about 1 million nephrons that filter 200 quarts of blood. (A nephron is the filtering part of the kidney.
- Keeps your body chemicals in balance, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus.
- Removes extra water from your body in the form of urine. Urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through ureters.
- Removes waste products from your blood; waste comes from what you eat, drink and normal muscle activity.
- Removes drugs and toxins
- Release hormones to control blood pressure
- Release hormones to make red blood cells
- Produce vitamin D to promote strong bones
How can you keep your kidneys healthy?
- Take an active role in your health and ask questions.
- Talk with you doctor about all medications, even over-the-counter drugs, before you take them.
- Take all medications as prescribed.
- Avoid using a regular or large amount of over-the-counter pain medications.
- Check your blood pressure regularly. A normal blood pressure reading should be less then or equal 120/80. A high blood pressure reading is greater then 140/90.
- If you have diabetes be sure to check your blood sugars regularly and take medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and regular exercise program.
- Avoid eating foods high in salt, cholesterol, and fat.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Treat wounds and infections.
- Limit exposure to heavy metal and toxic chemicals.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Quit smoking.
- Visit your doctor regularly.
- Incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.
What is renal function?
- Renal is a medical term that relates to the kidneys.
- A Nephrologist is the term for a doctor that cares for your kidneys.
- Blood flows into the kidneys through the renal arteries and leaves through the renal veins.
List of appropriate questions to ask when at the doctors office
- What can cause a decrease in kidney function?
- What medical test have I had done?
- What medicines have I been prescribed? What does each one do? What side effects might I have?
- What medicines, vitamins and herbs should I avoid?
- Should I be following a special diet?
- Should I be exercising? What types of exercise can I do?
- How often should I be seeing my nephrologists?
- Who can I talk to about the emotions I'm having?
- What Web sties, books and other resources can I use to learn more about my health?
Acute Renal Failure
A sudden decrease in kidney function. If your kidneys are not seriously damaged often reversible, but it may lead to permanent loss of kidney function.
- Physical injury or accident that causes damage to kidney function.
- Loss of blood
- Medications, Drugs or Poisons
- Some Intravenous dyes
Chronic Renal Failure
A gradual loss of kidney function. This can happen slowly and silently over many years.
Because this can often go undetected for many; years, it is important to know how to keep your kidneys healthy.
- Chronic Infections-recurring urinary tract infections
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Medications, Drugs and Poisons
- Heavy use of pain relievers or alcohol
Warning signs of kidney disease
Early Detection of these signs and symptoms is the key:
- Sudden on set of high blood pressure
- Blood and/or protein in the urine (may appear as bloody or tea colored urine)
- A elevated creatinine level (a blood test)
- Needing to urinate more often and especially at night
- Difficult, painful or burning urination
- Ankle and leg swelling
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakness, paleness