Education & Resources
WHAT DO KIDNEYS DO?
The kidneys remove extra waste and fluid from your body, which helps you stay healthy.
Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist, found on either side of your spine and just below your rib cage. Most people have two kidneys, but some people have only one. You can be healthy with only one kidney if it is functioning properly.
Even though your kidneys are small, they keep your body chemistry in balance by removing wastes and fluids. All blood in the body passes through the kidneys several times a day.
Below is a general overview of how kidneys work:
- Blood enters the kidney through a large artery from the heart called the renal artery
- The blood is cleaned as it passes through millions of blood filters in the kidneys called the nephrons
- Wastes and fluid pass out of the kidneys to the bladder through tubes called the ureters
- The waste and fluid is stored in the bladder as urine
- The bladder becomes full and the urine passes out of the body
WHY DO KIDNEYS FAIL?
Kidneys may fail due to some of the following reasons:
- Untreated, long-term, high blood pressure
- Inherited conditions
- Serious infections like recurring urinary tract infections
- Drug abuse
- Kidney stones
- Diabetes that is poorly controlled
All of these health problems can damage the nephrons in your kidneys, possibly leading to kidney failure.
If the nephrons are compromised, they cannot efficiently filter wastes out of your blood. This will lead to a buildup of wastes and fluid in your body, making you sick.
WHAT IS CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a long-term illness that cannot be cured—only managed. There are five stages of kidney disease, leading to kidney failure. When a person reaches Stage 5, the kidneys have failed. This last phase is called End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
There are only two possible treatments for ESRD: dialysis or a kidney transplant.
SIGNS OF END-STAGE RENAL DISEASE
The signs of End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) may include the following:
- Swelling of the face, hands, and feet
- Fatigue and weakness
- Bad taste in your mouth
- High blood pressure
- Loss or lack of appetite
- Shortness of breath
Because dialysis can supplement some of the things that are done by healthy kidneys, dialysis treatment may reduce these signs of ESRD. When your kidneys can no longer function to keep you healthy, dialysis is necessary.
WHEN IS DIALYSIS NEEDED?
Dialysis is necessary when approximately 85 to 90% of kidney function is lost.
Dialysis will replace about 10 to 15% of your kidney function by:
- Helping to control your blood pressure by removing fluid from the blood
- Filtering medications from your blood
- Helping to maintain levels of important substances (e.g. potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate) in your blood so they are safely balanced
- Removing wastes and fluid buildup in your body
NxSTAGE SYSTEM ONE
BAXTER AMIA APD
BAXTER HOMECHOICE PRO
Did You Know This About ESRD?
End Stage Renal Disease facts you should know. Expand the infographic here.