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.
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
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