Kidneys: You Can Live Without One, But Better Not To

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located at the back of the lower abdomen. Their main function is to filter blood to remove waste products created by normal bodily functions. They are also responsible for maintain adequate water levels either by eliminating water or by reabsosbing it after it is filtered. Water which is eliminated is sent to the urinary bladder and stored as urine until time of secretion.

Each kidney contains about 1 million nephrons. These nephrons are tiny blood vessels intertwined with tiny tubes which collect urine. Here, waste material and water leaves the body and goes into the urinary system.

Kidney function is crucial to health. If kidneys do not function to at least 20% of their capacity the person becomes quite ill. The body basically fills with poisons. Warning signs include irregular need to urinate, feeling tired, itchy skin, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, darkened skin, muscle cramps, and swollen hands and feet.

The 2 primary causes of kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure, but can also be caused by injury, and infection. Failure can take place slowly over several years or may happen quickly. Immediate medical intervention is required. Treatment for kidney failure is very poor. Many times the person needs regular dialysis (cleaning of the blood via a machine) and a transplant.

Kidney stones are rock like objects that form from crystallized materials. Most kidney stones are calcium oxalate based. Some will remain and grow in the kidneys while others will break off and pass through into the bladder and out the urethra during urination. Passing of stones can be quite painful. Assuring proper hydration, all the time, is one simple way of helping reduce the chance of kidney stones from forming. If the stones will not pass then medical intervention is required.

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