How do Kidneys Function?

In anatomy, a kidney is either one of a pair of small bean-shaped vital organs located in the dorsal region, or the lower back, of the human body.  Positioned one on each side of the spine – although the left kidney is set a little higher than its counterpart at the right –  its sizes are about 4 inches or 10 centimeters long, and about 2 and a half inches or 6.4 centimeters wide.

How do Kidneys Function

The kidneys perform many functions, such as: keeping the blood clean by freeing it of wastes and water; balancing the chemicals in the body; dispensing hormones and assisting in the control of blood pressure; production of red blood cells, and; generating vitamin D to keep the bones strong and healthy.

Keeping the blood clean.  Even as blood circulates through our veins and arteries, it carries with it some undesirable particles that come from what we take in, be it food or drinks and soup. Instinctively, the kidneys remove the wastes, excess fluid, salt, and other minerals carried by the blood, and leaving just enough quantities for the body’s requirements. The kidneys’ numerous tiny filters called glomeruli, are the ones responsible for sifting out wastes and water from the blood. The cleansed blood, then, returns to the heart again and recirculates through the same process; while the wastes and extra water enter the bladder through the ureters and become urine, which we eventually discharged through urination.

Balancing the chemicals in the body. After removing excess fluid from the body, the kidneys now retain what is called the body’s fluid balance.  Based on the body’s total weight, the kidneys maintain a normal fluid balance of about 55 percent for women, and about 60 percent for men.  If we drink plenty of fluids daily, kidneys remove our excess fluid by making us discharge plenty of . Fluid may also be discharged through sweat, breath, and feces. This is how healthy kidneys function.

On the other hand, if we do not take in much fluid, the kidneys will retain the fluid in and we discharge only little urine.  In cases where , these organs become unable to control the fluid balance in the body.  If we do not discharge much urine, we develop the tendency of overloading fluid in our body, and may therefore submit to dialysis and restrict our fluid intake to correct the imbalance. Too much fluid inside our body may cause high blood pressure.

Dispensing hormones and assisting in the control of blood pressure.  Healthy kidneys produce renin, an enzyme that mobilizes the hormonal mechanisms to regulate the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance. It is especially dispensed at the instance when blood pressure starts to fall. Renin then transforms the blood protein into , a peptide hormone that causes the blood vessels to narrow. In turn, angiotensin, impels the adrenal gland to dispense aldosterone, another hormone responsible for the re-absorption of sodium, or salt, and water into the blood.

To recapitulate, these hormones work together in controlling the amount of salt and fluid the body keeps and the manner that the blood vessels expand and contract.  Excessive amount of water, or fluid overload, in the body causes blood pressure to go up; while insufficient amount of the same, or dehydration, causes blood pressure to drop. Moreover, when arteries constrict its width, blood pressure soars high.  This is where renin comes in, as it controls the constriction of the arteries.

Production of red blood cells. produce erythropoeitin (EPO), a glycoprotein hormone that activates the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. EPO is dispensed in reaction to the dropping levels of oxygen in body tissue.

Generating Vitamin D. Healthy kidneys produce calcitriol, a hormone that is responsible for sustaining an appropriate level of calcium and phosphate in the blood and bones, keeping the bones strong.

With this given information about the function of our kidneys, may we realize how important it is to care for these organs and also find out more about .