By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
Kidneys are just not two 'kidney' shaped organs situated at the back of your tummy filtering urine and getting rid of waste products, but does much more, and safeguarding these organs are essential for wellbeing and survival.
Kidneys have the ability to monitor the amount of body fluid the body should contain and filter waste-products of metabolism, like urea, creatinine and potassium among others. The kidneys also filter excess blood urea from protein metabolism and uric acid from DNA breakdown.
The acidity of your blood (pH), your muscle functions,is affected by your electrolytes and isproperly regulated by the kidneys. Kidneys and electrolytes control the blood pressure and stimulate the production of red blood cells.
Sensors in the kidneys
On the contrary, if a person is dehydrated from exercise, or living in the tropics, or from excessive water loss as in diarrhoea, the kidneys will hold the water excretion and in such situations the scanty amounts of urine passed will be highly concentrated.
This system is controlled by a hormone called renin, which also can cause high blood pressure through narrowing (vaso-constriction) of blood vessels. This system is also referred to as "the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) is a hormone system that regulates blood pressure and water (fluid)…
The blood through the kidneys passes through several times a day. Each kidney contains around a million units called nephrons, each of which is a microscopic filter for blood. It's possible to lose as much as 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms or problems. An early symptom could be swelling (pitting oedema) around your ankles. See your doctor immediately. You could also get fatigue, skin rashes, a metallic taste in the mouth, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, dizzy spells, as early signs of kidney failure.
How do the kidney functions fail?
There are pre-renal causes that affect the kidneys indirectly, such as low blood volume due to loss through injury. In such a situation the kidneys can go into 'acute shock' as do in severe motor car accidents (crush injury)
Dehydration from vomiting, diarrhoea and high fevers can cause acute kidney failure. If you suffer from severe gastro-enteritis you should hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water. Coconut water is a good substitute. Soda drinks with sugar are contraindicated as water tends to be drawn into such fluids (osmosis) and worsen the dehydration, especially among kids.
Some people habitually do not drink enough water- two litres a day. When taking certain drugs like metformin given for diabetes, should drink more water to prevent dysfunction of the kidneys. The radiologists will warn you to stop metformin 48 hours before giving dyes intravenously to take contrast X ray films. After such studies you need to flush your kidneys with plenty of water to prevent kidney damage from the iodine dyes.
Causes within the kidneys (damage directly)
Those travelling overseas requiring vaccines are cautioned that the kidneys could be affected if you suffer from a pre-existent kidney failure
Certain medications damage the functioning kidney tissue, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, voltaren and naproxen. These drugs are prescribed for chronic arthritic conditions and long term use can inevitable damage your kidneys.
There are certain medications that damage your kidneys, such as aminoglycosides (Genta and Garramycin), lithium given for psychiatric situations, and iodine containing medications injected for radiological studies.
Rhabdomyolysis: A common drug that causes breakdown of muscles is statins. One fine day, your legs may give way due to significant breakdown of muscles in the body, especially the calf muscles. This could occur in traumatic crush fractures in accidents or burns. Fortunately, stopping statins gives relief overnight. In such situations better avoid statins and control your cholesterol blood levels through diet alone, or taking other medications. Your doctor will order a test (Creatine phosphokinase CPK test) to check such muscle breakdown. Such breakdown of muscles produces a protein called myoglobin, harmful to the kidneys and produce kidney failure.
Multiple myeloma is another bone disease that can cause kidney failure.
Post-renal causes: This happens when there is obstruction to the outflow of urine from the kidneys. Obstruction to the outflow occurs in obstructions in the bladder outlet, as in enlarged prostate gland or prostatic cancer.
Certain tumours within the abdominal cavity can cause pressure on the ureters that can cause kidney failure. Occasionally, the ureters are damaged following womb operations (hysterectomy) which are less frequent today.
Ureteric stones can cause obstruction in one ureter that can cause renal failure unless the stone is crushed or removed.
Chronic renal failure
This is a serious progressive condition among the uncontrolled diabetics. Diabetics should have yearly tests for blood creatinine, blood urea, and a test called eGR, plus urineanalysis for those excretory products.
Strict control of diabetes is essential to prevent chronic kidney failure leading to end-stage failure.
Poorly controlled high blood pressure is also another common situation where kidneys can chronically fail. Keep your BP less than 130/70 for males and 120/70 for females, at all ages.
Copyright © 2000 ~ 2016 Ozlanka®.
Ozlanka is not responsible for the contents of this article or for any external internet sites that may be linked through this website.
The views expressed above are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or concepts of the webmaster or the owners & operators of Ozlanka.
Ozlanka and Auslanka are registered trademarks