What Are Kidneys & What Do They Do?

After a quick overview of types of kidney pain, lets take a look at the role of healthy kidneys in your body.

Kidneys are an important, necessary part of the human body. Humans are generally born with two functioning kidneys on each side of the spine. The bean shaped kidneys are protected by the lower half of the rib cage. The organs are about the size of an adult fist and weigh less than a pound, but perform a big job inside the body. The human body can survive with just one kidney when necessary. This makes it possible for people to donate one of their healthy kidneys without suffering any major health complications.

The kidneys act like filtering machines in the body. Inside each kidney, there are close to a million minuscule nephrons. These nephrons are where the real action takes place. They work to filter approximately 200 quarts of blood every day. The extremely intelligent nephrons analyze the sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and chloride levels within the blood. The nephrons automatically determine what the body’s cells need to continue functioning properly and what is deemed as too much. The delicate pH balance within the body is maintained by the kidneys. Having too much or too little of the nutrients and minerals can result in dangerous, life threatening conditions.

As if that was not a complicated enough process, the kidneys also produce hormones the body needs to function normally. Some hormones manufactured by the kidneys include those that help produce valuable, life sustaining red blood cells. The kidneys also produce the hormones needed to regulate blood pressure and calcium metabolism. Vitamin D is also produced in the kidneys and is necessary to promote healthy bones.

The filtering process also removes excess water and toxins from the blood stream that are produced when the body breaks down food, drugs and beverages that are taken in. On average, the kidneys remove two quarts of waste material from the blood. The excess waste is sent out of the kidneys in the form of urine and sent to the bladder through small tubes called ureters. The newly filtered, clean blood is sent back to work throughout the body.

If the kidneys become sick or infected, they are unable to function properly. An underperforming kidney is often difficult to diagnose. A person can still have normal body functions if their kidneys have some reduction in function. As much as 30 to 40 percent can be tolerated without any major side effects. People whose kidneys are only operating at 25 percent face serious complications. The actual causes of kidney pain can be minor to potentially life-threatening.

Now lets take a further look at what causes kidney pain.