Vital Link Between Water and Kidney Function

There is an inextricable link between water and kidney function.  To achieve optimum health, it is essential to have the correct volume of water in the body... Having too much can be just as bad as having too little.

Water and Kidney Function

Even before birth, fluids play an integral part in our sustenance and development. We consume it from our mothers and spend many months floating in amniotic fluid. At birth, as much as 75% of a baby's weight is made up of water. As we grow older, however, this tends to decrease to around an average of 55% to 60% of body weight.  Maintaining this balance is very important and underscores the vital relationship between water and kidney function.  Regulating the volume of water in the body is an essential role of the kidneys.

A human can die from dehydration, within a matter of a few days, if they are completely deprived of fluids.  It is equally dangerous to drink an extremely excessive amount of water in a short period of time.  This causes the level of sodium in the blood to drop dangerously low and it can be fatal.  This is known as hyponatremia and is commonly referred to as water intoxication.

The Relationship Between Water and Kidney

One of the primary roles of the kidney is to regulate the volume of water in the body.  Remarkably, the kidneys know exactly how much water should remain in the body.  They constantly monitor the blood to ensure it has the correct balance of water and other chemicals.  Once an imbalance is detected, the kidneys spring into action to bring the body's water volume back into balance. 

If you drank too much water the kidney automatically removes the excess water.  If on the other hand you failed to drink adequate amounts of water, the kidney will remove very little water as it tries to maintain the correct volume. 

Excess Water and Kidney Function

When you consume large amounts of water in a short period of time, the water is absorbed from your gut into your bloodstream, and it has the effect of diluting the blood. As the diluted blood enters the kidneys, water and other chemicals are filtered out, by the nephrons.

The excess water and other wastes substances create urine, which is transported from the kidneys to the bladder via the ureters. Eventually, as the bladder fills up, the urine is expelled from the body through the process of urination.

The kidneys will produce a high volume of urine to get rid of the excess water and you are likely to visit the bathroom quite frequently.

Water Deficiency

Fluid intake is governed mainly by thirst. In other words, when you begin to feel thirsty it is a signal that the body requires water.  Fluid deficiency occurs when output exceeds intake, over an extended period of time.

It is estimated that many people do not drink enough water and are, consequently, slightly dehydrated. This can result in symptoms such as headaches, irritability and forgetfulness. It can also place a strain on the kidneys and result in urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

The body loses water via urine, faces, breathing, sweat, and cutaneous transpiration. 

Cutaneous transpiration is not the same as sweat. A simple way to observe it is to place the palm of your hand on a cool nonporous surface, such as a mirror. When you remove your hand, you will notice the condensed water that transpired through the skin, on the surface of the mirror.

If the body continues to lose water that is not adequately replaced, this could result in volume depletion and dehydration.  The most common cause of dehydration is simply not drinking enough fluids. Other causes include diabetes mellitus, ADH hyposecretion (diabetes insipidus), and profuse sweating. Also, prolonged exposure to cold weather can be a cause of dehydration, just as much as prolonged exposure to hot weather.

Water and Kidney Stones

The link between insufficient water and kidney stones is well known.  Dehydration is a major cause of kidney stones. 

Water helps to dilute the urine and minimize the chances of concentration of minerals and salts.  Without adequate water, these salts and minerals can bond together to form kidney stones.  

Health experts recommend drinking six (6) to eight (8) glasses each day, along with other drinks.  This is a general guide but in some cases you may require more than eight glasses per day. It depends on your body mass index (BMI), and the amount of fluid lost due to physical activities or health conditions.

So be sure to drink adequate amounts of water every day.  This will not only help to prevent kidney stones but will also help to ensure that the kidneys and other biological systems function properly.  This essential relationship between adequate water and kidney function cannot be overemphasized.   

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