How the body works

The function of the kidneys

The powerhouse of the urinary system, the two bean shaped organs known as the kidneys are located in the upper abdominal cavity and rest against the back muscles.  Some of the key functions of the kidneys are:

  • Waste removal: The job of the kidneys are to remove toxins, waste, excess salts and urea out of the body through urine.
  • Water regulation: The kidneys react to changes in the body’s water levels.  As your intake of water decreases, the kidneys are able to adjust accordingly to keep the water n the body instead of excreting it out through urine.
  • Blood pressure regulation: Keeping blood pressure stable is not easy job.  The kidneys need constant pressure to filter the blood so when it senses that blood pressure is too low, the pressure in the kidneys increase.   This constant constriction and retention helps to ensure blood pressure remains normal.
  • Red blood cell regulation: The kidneys use a hormone called erythropoietin to signal the bone marrow when it requires more oxygen.  In response, the bone marrow produces more oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
  • Acid regulation: Depending on what we eat, foods can either increase or neutralize the acid in our body.  The kidneys role is to keep a healthy balance of chemicals so that the body can function properly.

The kidneys variety of jobs places it at risk of many problems.

Acute kidney failure is a condition in which the kidneys suddenly lose their ability to function properly. This can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Infection
  • Blood-clotting disorders
  • Decreased blood flow caused by low blood pressure
  • Autoimmune kidney disorders
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Complications from pregnancy
  • Dehydration
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