KIDNEYS - Overview

Kidneys are super processing, hardworking organs. They are constantly at work, 24 hours a day, performing various functions that are necessary for good health.


Most people are born with two, but it is entirely possible to live a long, healthy life with a single healthy kidney. This bean-shaped organ is multi-functional and versatile. 

Kidney Facts Everyone Should Know

  • What do they look like?

They are bean-shaped organs and appear dark red in color. One side bulges outward (convex) and the other side is indented (concave).


  • Where are they located?

Kidneys are normally located toward the back of the abdominal cavity, just above the waist. The one on the right side is usually slightly lower than the one on the left side of the abdominal cavity.


  • What is their normal size?

They are approximately the size of your fist. For an adult human, this typically falls within the range of about 10 to 13 cm (4 to 5 inches) long, about 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) wide and 2 to 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick.


  • What is their primary function?

Their primary function is to filter blood by removing harmful toxins and other waste products. On a daily basis, they process about 200 quarts of blood. These wastes are produced from normal metabolic processes and chemical substances from foods that the body cannot use.

  • What else do they do?

In addition to filtering the blood, they perform some other important functions. These include regulating the amount of salt and water in the body, regulating blood pressure, regulating the body's pH balance, producing certain hormones such as erythropoietin (eh-RITH-ro-POY-eh-tin) and processing vitamin D.

  • Is it possible to live with one instead of two?

Yes. One healthy kidney is more than capable of adequately performing all the functions of two (2). Although most people are born with two some are born with just one, while others may lose one through disease or by donating it to someone with end stage renal failure.


  • What is renal failure?

Renal failure occurs when renal function is impaired. Impairment of renal function can range from mild to severe. The most severe stage is referred to as end stage renal disease (ESRD).

  • What causes renal failure?

Renal problems can be caused by illness, injury, genetics, or aging. Disorders such as urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection (UTI), cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus can impair renal function.


  • How can I know if renal function is impaired?

There are a series of tests, commonly referred to as "kidney function tests", used by medical doctors to evaluate how well the kidneys are working. You can ask your doctor about this. If he or she is unable to perform these tests then ask to be referred to another doctor who can competently perform these tests.


  • Can renal failure be prevented?

In most cases, yes! By far, diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of renal failure. In many cases, these two conditions can be prevented by eating healthy, exercising regularly, managing stress and avoiding harmful practices, such as smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol.

It is also important to be able to recognize the early signs of renal problems. Early diagnosis and treatment of renal disorders can, in some cases, reverse the condition and/ or minimize the impact on the kidneys. You should visit your doctor at least once a year for a routine medical check-up. If you are diagnosed with some form of renal disease, more frequent visits may be necessary.

Kidneys are the World's Most Transplanted Organ

Globally, renal transplants account for the vast majority of all solid organ transplants (almost 70%). This makes the kidney the most sought after organ in the entire world.  The demand for kidneys far exceeds the supply.

Very often, chronic kidney problems are caused by poor dietary and lifestyle choices, which can be prevented by making simple changes to diet and avoiding certain harmful lifestyle practices.

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The contents of this site is for informational purposes only and not recommended as a means of diagnosing or treating an illness.  All matters concerning physical health should be supervised by a health practitioner knowledgeable in treating that particular condition.