Kidneys in our life and about our body wastes
The sole excretory organ a human body has is the kidneys. Excretion means removal of our body wastes. A large variety of substances are created by our body metabolisms that exclude energy. Our organs, tissues and cells cause a large number of chemical reactions in kind of “metabolic waste”. Some of the end-products and by-products of metabolic wastes are toxic. The toxic products need to be removed from our body to avoid poisoning of our body-tissues. These excretory products are removed from our body as our body wastes. The excretion task is mainly done by our kidneys.
Kidneys, are normally in pair (one on each side of our spinal column), situated below the diaphragm and at the back of our abdomen. The shapes of kidneys are like beans. In normal condition, the position of the right kidney is slightly lower than the left one, because of the position of our liver. The perennial fat, a thick layer of adipose tissues surround each one of the kidneys as protection-help. The kidneys are surrounded, enclosed and protected by an outer layer or a renal capsule, which is a transparent, smooth, fibrous membrane to help to maintain the kidneys’ shape and also to protect it from any damage. Filtering impurities from blood is the prime function of kidneys. These filtered impurities come out of our body as urine.
Kidney failure and the repercussions
In case kidneys fail all the body wastes (solid and liquid) start accumulating in our body, endangering our health. The fallout of this body condition will lead to positioning of our body which may be even life threatening. In this stage immediate medical intervention is a must.
The weight of the kidneys is just the half percent of our total body weight. Our body’s total arterial blood’s Ð 20-25 per cent, pumped by our heart, and is received by our kidneys. Because of this huge amount of blood supply in it, our kidneys carry on following functions:
Keeps the various ion concentrations and other crucial substances constant
Maintain the body fluids’ balance
Removes wastes from the body. The body wastes mean toxic substances, drugs, ammonia, urea etc.
Regulates blood’s composition
Help in regulating blood pressure.
It constantly keeps our blood’s acid/base concentration
It regulates the calcium level of our blood
It not only controls, but also stimulates the making of red blood cells
Throughout a day, active tissue i.e. muscles are broken down by our body, in addition to breaking down food for energy. It also self-repairs itself. Once the essential foods are taken, our body sends the unnecessary and waste materials to our blood. Once these wastes are sent to kidneys, the wastes are filtered as urine and the solid wastes become the stool. If kidneys cannot do this most important job, our body will be full of wastes and keep storing these wastes throughout our body through the blood routes. This unhealthy condition will damage our body. Hence the important job of our kidneys is to remove these wastes from the blood and pump back the clean blood to our body.
Kidney’s working “per minute for our total health”
Almost one liter of blood that comes to be 1/5th of the pumped blood from our heart, takes the route of renal arteries to enter in our kidneys. Now a blood cleaning process takes place in our kidneys. After the cleaning of these waste-material-laced bloods, our kidneys send the clean blood back tour body through renal veins. This removal process takes place in the Nephrons, i.e. tiny units within the kidneys. Each of the kidneys has almost 1 million of Nephrons, which is made of a very small filter which is known as capillary or tiny blood vessel, which remains attached with a tubule. While the Nephron passes the blood through, the filters keep the normal cells and proteins in the blood stream but allow the unwanted wastes and fluid to pass through. Much of the fluids are sent back to the blood, but the wastes are turned as body waste fluid or urine. Once the bladder becomes full with urine, it passes to another tube i.e. urethra that ultimately pumps out the urine from our body, making the urge for urination. The other important function our kidneys carry on is production of three important hormones.
EPO or Erythropoietin stimulates our bone marrow for making red blood cells
Regulation of our blood pressures through Renin
A form of vitamin D i.e. Calcitriol assists our intestine for absorbing calcium from our diet
Healthy kidney functions
If the functions of our kidneys are healthy, any excess or waste product or minerals are pumped out by the kidneys from our body through urine. Minerals are always very essential for producing growth and energy for our body. They are also very crucial for the reproductions and up keeping of cells in healthy conditions. Potassium and sodium are the minerals that we get from our food. Our body needs these essentials for keeping us healthy, but beyond any correct level, they are definite to disturb our body system. Kidneys do the regulatory job. Kidneys also regulate maintaining the levels of other minerals like phosphate and calcium, which are very crucial for our bone formation.
Toxicity & kidneys’ role
Toxicity is most common in the waste products of our body. So if they are not removed, they will disturb our body system. When protein is broken down, many waste products, including urea get produced. One of the waste products of our muscles is Creatinine. If our kidneys are healthy, they will remove these waste products from our body, by putting it into urine to be passed through. That means, if our kidneys are not working well, these creatinine will be built up within our blood.
Human urinary system, in detail
Our both kidneys are the vital parts of our urinary system, consisting of two ureters: one is ureters and the other is bladder. Kidneys form urine and related attributing system. Two thin tubes are there for urine to travel down from kidneys; they are ureters connected to our bladder. The ureter’s muscle walls constantly relax and tighten for forcing urine to come downwards from kidneys. A kidney infection is inevitable in the urine is allowed to back up or stand still. In every 10 to 15 seconds, our bladder receives small amount of urine from the ureters. This means our kidneys work constantly to clean the unwanted body wastes, either in urine form or in stool form, by cleaning our intestine, skin and lungs. Each of these organs pass outs water & wastes for maintaining fluid and chemical balance in our body. In case the cleansing systems of our kidneys are not proper and so there is some urinary tract dysfunction, we will find plethora of problems like bladder control dysfunctions, prostate enlargement, bladder or kidney stones, urinary infection and most critical among them is kidney failure.
The constituents of urine are dissolved waste materials and water, which get into our body through intakes like food or water. Urine also contains dead blood cells and some other materials rejected by our body. By processing blood plasma, our kidneys allow vitamins, sugar, amino acids, water and other important substances to send back to our blood stream. In this process, excess minerals, salts and water are eliminated through urine.
The constituents of urine are:
2.5 % of urea, which is formed by breaking down the protein
95 % of water
The balance 2.5 % is the mixture of
• Minerals and enzymes
• Creatinine, potassium and sodium types of dissolved chemicals (which are formed from the breaking down of our muscles) and other chemicals.
• Uric acid that gets produced by breaking down “purine”, a chemical by-product by our body
• A yellow pigment or to say “urochrome”, produced by the dead blood cells’ process in our liver. The normal colour of our urine is pale yellow is due to the presence of urochrome factor.
If we take spiced or fried food we require extra water. When we take extra water, this will increase the total quantity of urine in our body. During summer, we perspire a huge quantity of water, so the amount of urine remains decreased in our body. That means the quantity of urine will differ according the hot & cold season. During summer season the quantity of urine being lesser, will be concentrated and so will be containing more substances. This will result in deeper orange or yellow color urine. If a person is suffering from jaundice, the person will pass turmeric colour urine, while a person with fever, will have reddish tint in his/her urine. Although these are normally seen in the said cases, but in case there is any disorder in kidneys, the person will have red or cloudy colour urine. By this way, it is clear that once your urine is tested, the doctors will come to know about the working or health of your kidneys.
Urine tests to sound you many things about your body and working of kidneys
If there is infection / inflammation / injury in your kidneys, your urine will indicate white blood cells, protein or even blood in it. In the same manner, glucose in your urine will say about diabetes in your body system.
Can we do all by missing a kidney?
Some people are born with a single kidney. So, a person can live normal & active life with a single kidney. Many studies have proved that a single kidney can keep a person active and healthy. In fact we need 20 % functioning of our kidneys for our usual body activities. But people with a single kidney may have the problem of high blood pressure and may risk proteinuria, a condition when protein levels grow in high level in urine. The reason is too much of protein leaks from the blood
In the medical world, the functions of kidneys are known as ‘renal functions’. Renal functions is the indicator of efficiency / deficiency of our kidney functioning, i.e. its capacity to filter wastes from our body systems. 100 percent of kidney functioning is performed by the two kidneys. 30 to 40 percent of decrease in the kidney functioning will may not be always noticeable, but will have ultimate effects. Some sort of kidney diseases and its ultimate repercussions will lead one to some worsening conditions. In some cases, even 25 percent less kidney functioning may make a patient serious. If the functioning is 10 to 15 percent, the patient can be treated with renal replacement therapy. This therapy may either be kidney transplant or a dialysis.
Every year thousands of people part with their one of the kidneys to save an ailing person with kidney problems. Both the donor and the recipients are either spouse or relative or friend. A donor, after surgery, can work, participate in sports, exercise and drive in a normal way. But doctors will never allow any contact sports. Any donor will never lose his/her sexual potency to have a child. Nonetheless, people with a single kidney must maintain some precautions. They are:
Avoid smoking, because it slows the flow of blood to the kidneys. In case blood does not reach sufficiently to the kidneys, it impairs the proper way of kidney functioning. Further to it, there are many instances of kidney cancers from smoking.
For maintaining healthy lifestyles, you must eat healthy foods, maintain your weight constantly, regular check-ups will help you enough in understanding your body conditions. Drink plenty of waters to help your entire body systems to work properly.
Be regular in checking your kidney functioning.
Keep monitoring your blood pressures. The most common cause of kidney damages is high blood pressure. That is why people with a single kidney may develop high blood pressures.
Be careful about those medications that cause blood pressures. So always remain in touch with your physician.
People with single kidney may suffer from proteinuria body condition when too many proteins get leaked from blood to the urine. In this condition, kidney’s filtering functions get decreased. The patients with this problem may have swellings in hands, abdomen, face, feet, while the urine will become foamy. The prevention of proteinuria needs your dietician’s advice and doctor’s consultation.
Always protect your kidneys and be careful about selecting those activities or sports that may be harmful to you.
Keep checking with the symptoms of kidney failure. If you have any of the (below mentioned) symptoms, you must get medical help, sooner the better.
Causes of kidney failure
The causes of kidney failure may be either from chronic problems or from acute situations.
In case the kidney failure is acute, the body functions of the patient are lost very rapidly. This may be due to varieties of insults to the body. The examples are accidents, loss of huge blood either for complicated surgery or accident. Certain medication, poisoning and obstructions may also be the causes. Acute kidney failure always leads to many serious problems even up to loss of kidney functions permanently.
It is often seen that development of kidney problems are always slow, but over time it become irreversible. This stage is known as chronic kidney failure. In this stage urine output and kidney functions decline gradually over time. In many cases, the patients remain ignorant about the problem; the reason is kidneys are very much adaptable even in that situation when one of the kidneys may have stopped working completely. The other kidney will compensate the loss and become more active.
The next part of this article will detail about other important information you need to know about kidney…….. to be continued....