What is Kidney Disease?

DaVita, Dialysis centers

Kidney disease occurs when your kidneys are no longer able to filter blood the way they should, remove waste effectively from your body or balance your fluids. The build-up of wastes can change the chemistry of your body causing some symptoms that you can feel, and others that you don't. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is called ‘chronic’ when the damage to your kidneys happens slowly over a long period of time.

Introduction to your kidneys

Understanding your kidneys is the first step to taking control of your health when you have chronic kidney disease (CKD). The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs about five-inches long, three-inches wide and one-inch thick located in your back on each side of your spine. Each kidney is about the size of a fist and weighs from 115 to 170 grams. They are situated above your waist, with the left kidney a little higher and a little larger. The right kidney is a little lower and smaller to make room for the liver. The lower ribs protect your kidneys.

Inside each kidney is approximately 1 million tiny filtering units called nephrons. Each nephron has a glomerulus and tubules. The glomerulus is a series of specialized capillary loops where water and small particles are filtered from the blood. The waste and extra fluids then travel through the tube-like structure of the tubules where several processes take place to turn those fluids into urine. The tubules lead to the collecting duct where the urine is drained into a funnel-shaped sac called the renal pelvis.

Each kidney has a ureter that connects the renal pelvis to the bladder. The urine from the kidneys flows down the ureters into the bladder and is then passed out of the body through the urethra. Two healthy kidneys are more than enough to filter waste from your blood and make urine.

What are the main functions of your kidneys?

The basic function of kidneys begins when you eat and drink. After the body takes the nutrients it needs, the extras become wastes. Some of the waste winds up in the blood and needs to be filtered out. The blood gets circulated through the body with every beat of the heart. It’s the job of the kidneys — with their millions of nephrons — to filter and clean out the blood and remove the extra fluids. The extra fluid and waste becomes urine and travels from the kidneys down the ureters to the bladder until eliminated through the urethra.

Most people think their kidneys are just responsible for producing urine, but there’s a lot more to it. In addition to removing extra fluid and water from your body, kidneys:

  • Filter the blood
  • Balance fluid content in the body
  • Produce the enzyme renin that helps control blood pressure
  • Produce the hormone erythropoietin helps the bone marrow to make red blood cells, and one called calcitriol helps to keep bones strong
  • Activate vitamin D to maintain healthy bones
  • Adjust levels of minerals and other chemicals to keep the body working properly

The kidneys monitor the levels of chemicals, salts and acids in the blood. Inside the nephrons are sensors that keep track of sodium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. When levels are high, the kidneys signal to remove the excess from your blood for elimination.

What happens to your kidneys when you have kidney disease?

If your kidneys are not functioning properly, they may have trouble:

  • Removing waste from your body
  • Removing extra fluid from your body
  • Keeping minerals and chemicals in balance
  • Making hormones properly

Knowing the symptoms of kidney disease can help people detect it early enough to get treatment.

To know more about symptoms of kidney disease click here

Who should I contact in case I show symptoms of kidney disease?

If you have signs of kidney disease, you should ask for a referral to a nephrologist, a specialist in treating kidney disease. A nephrologist will perform an evaluation then suggest medications or lifestyle changes to help slow the progression of kidney disease. To contact a nephrologist at DaVita you may call us at 9740426060 or fill the form below :

Lead Source