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What are Kidneys

Most commonly we assume that Kidneys are the natural filters in our body. Medically kidney functions are known as renal functions.
Human kidneys are two bean-shaped organs of about five-inches long, three-inches wide and one-inch thick located in the back on each side of our spine. Our kidneys are normally sized as a fist and weighs from four to six ounces. They are situated above the waist, with the left kidney a little higher and a little larger. The right kidney is a little lower and smaller to accommodate the positioning of the liver. The lower ribs protects our kidneys as a shell guarding it further. Kidneys comprises of tiny units called nephrons. These nephrons helps in the filtering of excess fluids and dissolving unnecessary particles. There are about 1 and 1.3 million nephrons inside each kidney.

 


Functions of Kidneys in our Body

Common assumption is that the kidneys are responsible for producing urine, but in addition to this there are several vital functions of Kidneys in our body like:

  • Removing extra fluid and water from your body

  • Filtering the blood

  • Balancing fluid content in our body

  • Produce renin enzyme to control blood pressure

  • Produce erythropoietin hormone to catalyze the formation of red blood cells

  • Maintain healthy bones by activating vitamin D

  • Balance minerals and other chemicals inside our body essential for normal body functions.

The kidneys functions begins as we eat and drink anything. Once the body consumes the nutrients from the food we eat, all the remaining material become waste products. These wastes either winds up in our blood or has to be filtered out. As the blood is constantly circulating inside out body with each heart-beat, the kidneys - along with its millions of nephrons - constantly filters our blood to clean it from the wastes and remove the extra fluids. These extra fluid and waste becomes urine and travels from the kidneys down the ureters into the urinary bladder which finally passes out through the urethra.

The removal of waste products is only one of the important job of our kidneys. Another vital role of kidneys is to monitor the chemicals, salts and acids in the blood. The nephrons are having sensors inside then to track sodium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. When these levels are high, the kidneys signals to remove the excess chemicals from our blood. In addition to these functions the kidneys are also involved to monitor and regulate other body functions like they secrete Renin enzyme which are responsible for controlling the blood pressure. It also produces hormone called erythropoietin which facilitated the bone marrow for producing red blood cells as well as calcitriol hormone which in making the bones strong.

Anatomy of the kidneys

Each kidney comprises of approximately 1 million tiny filtering units called nephrons. A nephron is made up of glomerulus and tubules. The glomerulus is a series of specialized capillary loops where water and small particles are filtered from the blood. The tube-like structure of the tubules passes of the waste and extra fluids through several processes into urine. There is a collecting duct to leading to these tubules where the urine is routed into a funnel-shaped sac called the renal pelvis. A ureter is attached with each kidney that connects the renal pelvis to the bladder. The urine thus produced through the kidneys flows down the ureters into the bladder and is passed out of our body through the urethra.

 
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