Dear reader(s), welcome to my website and blog. This is the first time I am 'blogging'! I just want to educate you about some basic facts about human kidneys.
1. What are kidneys?
Kidneys are an organ in our body (just like heart, lungs, liver, etc). We have 2 kidneys. Each kidney is usually the size of one's own fist (Hence a big man will have a big kidney and a small built person can expect to have a small one - on average about 10cm in length). They are present at the back on either side of mid-spine region. They are in the shape of 'Beans'.
2. What are the functions of the kidneys?
Kidneys have various different functions, but the most important is the excretory function. Kidneys filter/ purify blood and get rid of toxins and excess water in the form of urine. Other functions include Blood pressure control (secretes various hormones like renin which control BP), production of a hormone called 'Erythropoietin' which regulates haemoglobin level in blood and ensures we don't get anaemic (low haemoglobin), and conversion of Vitamin D into its active form which in turn regulates level of calcium and phosphate in the body.
3. Why do some people develop kidney failure?
Since the main function of kidneys is to purify blood, it consists of tiny filters called 'Nephrons'. There are 1 million (10Lakh) filters in each kidney during young age. After the age of 40years, the number of filters starts reducing due to normal ageing process. We can expect to loose 10% kidney function per decade due to this ageing process. Apart from this many people lose more filters due to damage from high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones, kidney infection, etc. Hypertension (high BP) and diabetes are by far the most common causes of progressive kidney dysfunction world over.
4. What are the types of kidney failure?
There are mainly two types of kidney failure 'Acute Kidney Failure' and 'Chronic Kidney Failure'.
Acute Kidney Failure - This has been renamed now as 'Acute Kidney Injury' (AKI). Acute refers to any problems which has happened within a very short span of time - days or weeks. Most patients with this kind of kidney impairment are unwell and need hospital admission. There is a high chance that we might be able to reverse this type of kidney impairment after appropriate investigations to diagnose the cause of kidney failure
Chronic Kidney Failure - This has also been renamed as 'Chronic Kidney Disease' (CKD). Chronic refers to any condition which has persisted for a long period of time - months or years. There are five stages of CKD with stage 1 being the mildest and stage 5 the most severe. People with kidney function of <15% (both kidneys put to-gether working <15%) fall into the category of CKD stage 5. Usually dialysis or transplantation will be necessary to maintain health and prolong survival in anyone who reaches kidney function<10%.
In my future posts I shall talk about symptoms of kidney disease, treatments and prevention stratergies to limit kidney disease.