The kidneys’ vital job is to uphold the body’s fluid balance and chemical environment through filtering the body’s blood. In addition, they produce several hormones.
The kidneys – more than an excretory organ
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs. They are located near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage. The kidney contains approximately one million nephrons. The nephrons filtrate blood, reabsorb and secrete substances to generate urine.
What happens when the kidneys do not work?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the final common pathway in many different diseases that affect the kidney. Visible health problems (see stages of CKD) occur when the kidney function declines to less than 25 percent of that of a healthy person. If it drops below 10 to 15 percent (kidney failure), a person cannot, in the long-term, live without some form of a renal replacement therapy (RTT) such as dialysis or transplantation. However, early detection can help to postpone dialysis or transplantation (see conservative treatment option).
Role of the kidneys
The main purposes of the kidney can be defined by following five pillars:
- Urine production: excretion of waste and urine production
- Management of electrolytes: Balance of the body’s electrolytes (i.e., sodium, calcium, phosphate, potassium, hydrogen ions)
- Osmolarity and blood pressure regulation: regulation of water (osmolarity) balance, regulation of systemic blood pressure
- Acid-base homeostasis: together with the lungs, the kidneys maintain acid-base homeostasis
- Hormone secretion: hormone secretion for blood pressure regulation, bone metabolism and synthesis of blood cells