Kidney Function And Common Urological Disorders
Human kidneys are paired vital organs that are bean shaped and occur on each side of the spine (along the posterior abdominal wall). Each adult kidney is about the size of a fist and serve several important functions; such as:
- Every day about 113 to 144 liters of blood is filtered through kidneys, creating 0.94 to 1.8 liters of urine.
- Kidneys serves to maintain homeostasis (i.e. internal biological environment) by regulating pH. This function is maintained by excretion/ reabsorption of acids or base (bicarbonate) in distal tubules of kidney.
- The urine produced by kidneys helps in the elimination of nitrogenous waste products, excess water, unneeded minerals and other pigments from the body.
- These functions also helps in the regulation of blood pressure and circulatory functions.
Besides filtration, kidneys also produce hormone (also known as erythropoietin) which plays an important role in the formation of blood cells and Calcitriol (that helps in the maintenance of bone mineral density).
What Should You Know About The Anatomy And Physiology Of Kidneys?
Human kidneys are a complex system of tubules that serves to filter blood in order to produce urine. The basic structural and functional unit of kidney is nephron that consists of two parts, the highly coiled initial part (known as glomerulus), and tubules (that are a continuation of glomeruli).
Glomerulus filters the blood to excrete excess fluids and toxic materials from the blood. Non-porous membranes of glomerulus offers resistance to the passage of larger molecules and blood cells into the filtrate. From glomerulus, the filtrate then passes through the tubules, where reabsorption of minerals takes place and more toxins are actively secreted into the filtrate to form urine. The urine thus formed is carried to the urinary bladder via ureters, where this toxin-rich ultra-filtrate of plasma is excreted from the body via urethra.
A compromised kidney can greatly affect your overall health. Here are some common and alarming urological and renal disease conditions
- Pyelonephritis: Pyelonephritis refers to infection of kidneys which is caused by contamination or colonization of bacteria in the renal tubules (mostly in the setting of ascending infection from the urethra). An untreated infection can cause permanent damage to the kidneys.
- Renal Colic: Crystallization of minerals and uric acid deposits in the kidney can lead to the formation of stones. Impaction of these stones in the kidney can lead to inflammation, infection and colic. In case if these stones are dislodged, the patient may experience urinary colic, infection, obstruction to the outflow of urine and other complications.
- CKD: Chronic kidney failure or chronic kidney disease is a condition in which kidney fails to perform its functions properly. Usually this condition is secondary to other diseases such as diabetes (type 1 and type 2), hypertension, inflammation in kidneys or poorly managed obstruction in the urinary tract. One out of three adults in United States are prone to chronic kidney failure, according to latest statistics reported by National Kidney Foundation. The affected individuals require dialysis or transplantation of kidney to maintain healthy existence. According to the data released by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, investigators suggested that renal transplant surgeries are very common in the US. A healthy individual, without becoming sick can donate a whole kidney or some part of it without compromising his existence.
- Renal Carcinoma: It is one of the most common types of cancer. American Society of Clinical Oncology predicted that in the year 2015, approximately 61,560 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with kidney cancer.
How To Maintain Optimal Kidney Health?
In order to maintain optimal health of kidneys, it is necessary to drink plenty of water and keep yourself hydrated (as kidneys require water to flush the toxins). Other helpful tips are:
- Intake of vegetables that are high in water content and avoiding caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol can also help in maintaining adequate hydration levels.
- Folic acid and vitamins are considered very helpful in boosting the health of kidneys; however, too much intake of vitamin C should be avoided as it may aggravate the risk of developing kidney stones.
- Excessive calcium can also create stones; therefore elder women who take calcium supplements should take optimal caution.
- High blood pressure may also contribute to the development of hypertensive kidney disease. Therefore, make sure to keep your chronic health issues in check.
- Regular exercise and low fat diet also plays a major role in maintaining a healthy kidney status.
1. Palmer, S. C., Wong, G., Iff, S., Yang, J., Jayaswal, V., Craig, J. C., … & Strippoli, G. F. (2014). Fluid intake and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and kidneys function: a population-based longitudinal cohort study. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, gft507.
2. Morel, F. (2013, October). Regulation of kidneys functions by hormones: a new approach. In Recent Progress in Hormone Research: Proceedings of the 1982 Laurentian Hormone Conference (p. 271). Academic Press.