Kidney Basics

Daily Health Solutions
on February 13, 2012

The kidneys are one of the most important organs in your body. Everything that you consume or are exposed to in your environment introduces toxins into your bloodstream, which the kidneys are responsible for filtering out. Deficient kidney function can impact nearly every aspect of your overall health. If left untreated, kidney disease can lead to incapacity or death within a relatively short amount of time. Symptoms of kidney problems are very general and difficult to pinpoint. A number of tests that screen for proper kidney function can be administered if you experience unexplained symptoms, especially if you’re in a high-risk category for kidney disease.

Kidney anatomy. The kidneys are located in the lower abdomen, one on each side of the body. Each kidney is approximately 4 or 5 inches long and roughly half as wide as its length, and weighs about half a pound. Kidneys are at the upper end of the urinary tract before the ureter, bladder and urethra. The renal artery and renal vein facilitate blood flow through the kidneys, allowing for more than a liter of blood to be filtered every minute with properly-functioning kidneys. According to the National Library of Medicine, “The kidneys are responsible for removing wastes from the body, regulating electrolyte balance and blood pressure, and stimulating red blood cell production.”

Importance to overall health. If your kidneys don’t function properly, toxins build up in your blood and bodily fluids may pool in your abdomen and extremities. On the more severe side, if kidneys are not properly regulating electrolytes, then many complications can ensue, up to and including heart failure. Kidneys also play an important role in producing bone marrow and metabolizing vitamin D. In other words, kidney dysfunction can lead to the eventual shut-down of nearly every system in the body. Initially, symptoms may include fatigue, headaches, nausea, weight loss and other related symptoms. These issues may indicate a serious medical problem even if you don’t have a personal or family history of kidney disease. Any alarming symptoms should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional as soon as possible.