The kidneys are very important organs, undertaking many tasks from regulating your fluid levels and blood pressure to balancing the quantity of minerals in your blood. Your kidneys also direct the production of red blood cells in your body and filter waste from the blood.
They are located in the abdomen, protected by the last two sets of ribs as well as additional fat and muscle. They receive about 25% of cardiac output. Filtering just over 140 litres of blood in a day, the kidneys are very efficient at cleaning blood, only disposing of under 2 litres into urine. They also are able to alter their filtering process to excrete more concentrated urine if a person has not drunk enough liquid.
Affecting 10% of the population worldwide, kidney disease can be caused by damage from such things as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Diabetes increases the levels of sugar in the blood, which damages the blood vessels, meaning that they can no longer clean the blood efficiently - this overloads the body with toxins and can lead to kidney failure.
Increased blood pressure damages the vessels in the kidneys over a prolonged period, leading kidney performance to decline. Kidney disease can cause further problems, such as weak bones, malnutrition and nerve damage.
Kidney stones are a crystallisation of minerals in the blood, forming kidney “stones”. They normally pass through the urine and can be incredibly painful.
Urinary tract infections (UTI's):
The urinary system can get bacterial infections, most commonly in the urethra and the bladder. Left untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and cause kidney failure.
Polycystic kidney disease:
This is a genetic disorder that gives rise to several cysts growing in the kidneys, interfering with their function and potentially causing kidney failure.
AnatomyStuff resources for the Kidneys:
Further reading / sources
How kidneys work:
Kidney disease statistics:
Common kidney problems: