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 About Your Kidneys

Click here to learn about kidney diseaseYour kidneys are vital organs in your body. They perform functions that clean your blood of chemicals, toxins and excess water, regulate blood pressure, produce hormones that promote red blood cells and regulate growth. Each day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to eliminate about 2 quarts of waste and excess water. These waste products and excess fluid are removed through the urine.  Kidneys are so efficient that although most people are born with two kidneys, you are able to lead a normal healthy life with only one kidney.

The waste and toxins in your blood come from the normal breakdown of the food you eat. Your body takes what it needs for growth, repair and energy and releases the excess to the blood. If the waste is not removed, it builds up in the blood to potentially fatally damage the body.

Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, approximately the size of your fist, located in the middle of your back. Each kidney is made up of about one million tiny units called nephrons. Each nephron consists of a filtering unit of tiny blood vessels called glomerulus, which are attached to a tubule. As blood enters the glomerulus, it is filtered and the remaining fluid passes along the tubule. It is in the tubule that chemicals and water are either added or removed from this filtered fluid, depending on the body’s needs, and the excess leaves the body as urine. Your kidneys are powerful and strong organs in your body. Damage to your kidneys can often take years to become apparent as the nephrons are destroyed slowly and silently. The two most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes and hypertension. The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the best measure of how well your kidneys are functioning. You can monitor the health of your kidneys by asking your doctor and knowing your GFR score.