Where are my kidneys? These two bean shaped organs are located near your lower back. They sit opposite one another, with one on each side of the body. The kidneys can be found along the posterior muscular wall of the abdomen. The left kidney is usually a bit higher up in the body compared to the right kidney. This is due to the liver taking up space on the right side of the body. It is possible to be born without one kidney but not without both.
The main responsibility of the kidneys is to get rid of unwanted waste and excess fluid from your body. Electrolyte levels of sodium, phosphate and potassium are kept stable thanks to the kidneys functioning properly.
The kidney also helps produce red blood cells and regulates blood pressure. The kidneys are like a filtering system that is made up of nephrons, which include a filter, glomerulus and a tubule. The glomerulus begins a two-step process to releasing waste by filtering fluid and passing the remains to the tubule. The tubule then regulates the fluid to filter and return any wanted fluid back into the bloodstream. After this is done, the tubule sends out the final product, which is urine. This process of filtration occurs several times a day to ensure your blood is being filtered properly. Kidney failure can occur if blood stops flowing to the kidney.
Kidneys are put under a lot of pressure from other organs in your body. If you start to notice any of the following signs or symptoms listed below, it is best to see a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Blood in your urine
- Frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate
- Painful urination
- Protein in your urine
- High blood pressure
- Swelling of the appendages, such as hands and feet
Diseases and Causes
Sometimes the kidney starts to improperly function and there can be many causes as to why this occurs. For example, kidney stones may block parts of the kidney from doing its job. Other causes of kidney diseases are:
- High blood pressure
- Family history of kidney problems
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Inflammation of the kidney(s)
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Drug and toxins abuse
While these are some of causes of kidney diseases and problems, below is a list of kidney diseases.
- Kidney Stones- crystal stones that block urine flow
- Acute renal failure-sudden loss of kidney functions
- Chronic renal failure- partial loss of kidney functions
- Renal and Kidney cancer
- Glomerulonephritis- overactive immune system
- Papillary necrosis- breaking of kidney tissues
- Renal cyst Interstitial nephritis- tissues inside the kidneys are inflamed.
Depending on the type of disease or infection your kidney is suffering, there are different tests to detect the issue. A kidney ultrasound often helps show if there are any masses or stones in the kidneys, as well as any blockages. CT scans and MRI’s are commonly used to detect any problems with the kidney by using high-resolution imaging. For less serious cases, a urine or blood test/culture is performed to check for any unwanted bacteria. A kidney biopsy is done to help diagnosis more serious problems in the kidneys.
If your kidney becomes infected, sometimes antibiotics can help remove the infection. For people who have had kidney stones split apart in their body, a treatment called lithotripsy is needed. This procedure literally shocks the body with shock waves to help pass along the stones. When one or both of your kidneys cannot properly filter your blood, the treatment of dialysis can help. Dialysis helps to artificially filter your blood using the Hemodialysis method, which is done at least 3 days a week. A kidney transplant is one of the last resorts to help restore kidney functions.
Keep Your Kidneys Healthy
It is important to do the best job possible to keep your body healthy, including your kidneys. Here is a list of things to do to make sure your kidneys function properly and in a healthy manner.
- Do not smoke or quit smoking
- Eat healthy foods, especially kidney beans
- Do not abuse over-the-counter medications
- Drink lots of fluid
- Limit your dairy and meat intake
- Cut down on caffeine, especially coffee and soda
- Do not do drugs or drink alcohol excessively
- Decrease your salt intake
- Check your blood pressure regularly
So, remember that even though these bean shaped organs may seem small in size, their function helps you live you life in the best way possible.