|Information On Kidney Failure|
This blog is dedicated to the kidneys - the two, bean-shaped organs that are vital in maintaining the body's perfect state of physical and mental balance. You will receive several answers to frequently asked questions about kidney disease.
WHERE ARE THE KIDNEYS LOCATED?
The kidneys are located behind the belly, one on either side of the spinal column. They are found underneath the ribs right where your mid-back (thoracic spine) meets your lower back (lumbar spine). The right kidney sits a little lower than the left. In an average-sized person, the kidneys are approximately four inches in length, but their size can vary depending on a person's body size, and degree and duration of kidney disease.
Each kidney is connected to a small, tube-like structure called a ureter (your-i-ter) that serves as a bridge between the kidney and bladder. Urine is formed in the kidneys, and then it flows through the ureters into the bladder, which is the temporary holding tank. When the bladder is full, the urine exits the body through another tube-like structure called the urethra (your-wreath-ra). Together, the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra make up the body's urinary tract.
WHAT DO THE KIDNEYS DO?
As the body's filters, the kidneys clean and purify the blood by eliminating toxins as waste. Think of a pool pump filter. The pool water flows into the pump and through the filter, where the waste products are removed. The filtered water is then pumped back into the pool. In the body, blood flows into the kidneys where the toxins are removed. Unlike the pool analogy, however, after the blood is filtered, the by-product - urine - is excreted.
The kidneys are composed of millions of small blood filters, called glomeruli (glo-mare-ewl-eye), working together to clean your blood twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When we discuss kidney function, the actual focus is on how well these small filters are collectively doing their job. In other words, in evaluating kidney function, your doctor is looking for the answer to one question: How well are the kidneys functioning as filters?
Additionally, the kidneys have a kind of "sixth sense," in that as they filter the blood, they instinctively know when the body is out of balance. When it is, the kidneys correct it. For example, if we eat too much sodium in our diet, normally functioning kidneys will remove the excess sodium the body doesn't need; thereby keeping the body in balance. In much the same way, the kidneys are programmed to keep blood levels of the minerals potassium, calcium, and magnesium within a normal range. These basic, life-sustaining ingredients are called electrolytes (elek-tro-lites). Regulation of their levels is important to maintaining total body balance.
The Kidneys and Acid-Base Balance
In addition to those previously listed, another important electrolyte is bicarbonate (bye-carb-o-net), which is your body's equivalent of baking soda - a very strong base. Going back to the pool analogy, every pool owner learns how to maintain the proper acid/base - or pH-levels of the pool water. In a similar way, the kidneys' role is to maintain the body's acid/base balance.
Changes in this balance, such as too much acid and a low amount of bicarbonate, can influence how well the other organs of the body function. Malfunctioning kidneys can cause bicarbonate levels to fall. When this happens, the acid level in the blood can build up, and over a period of time, the high acid levels can be toxic to the body. To find out more, you can check out Information On Kidney Failure.