Kidneys: The Chemical Factories of the Human Body

Kidneys: The Chemical Factories of the Human Body

The body is one complicated machine. Everything is connected. Everything works (or is supposed to) in harmony. Many times, when you are diagnosed with an illness, caring for that illness is necessary so that nothing else is impacted.

Take the kidneys for instance. They are our body’s cleaning department, along with the liver. According to the National Kidney Foundation, these fist-sized organs primarily help to clear waste of the body and also provide stability in the body because they maintain a healthy acid base balance and water salt balance of the blood.

Kidneys also perform the following functions:

  • Remove waste products from the body
  • Remove drugs from the body
  • Balance the body’s fluids
  • Release hormones that regulate blood pressure
  • Produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
  • Control the production of red blood cells

As you can probably tell from this list, these set of organs control a large portion of what keeps our bodies healthy.

How do you get kidney disease?

Chronic kidney disease is defined as having decreased kidney function for longer than three months. While some chronic kidney conditions run in the family, they are also affected by more common conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

Other conditions that may affect the kidneys are lupus and other diseases that affect the immune system. Use of over the counter medicine can also affect the kidneys if used for a long period of time.

Detecting kidney disease

Those with increased risk of kidney disease should have these tests done:

  • Older individuals
  • People with diabetes
  • People with high blood pressure, hypertension
  • People with a family member who has kidney disease
  • People of color; Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian

There are easy tests that people with a high risk of kidney disease can have done. One test detects protein in the urine. Technically called the Albumin to Creatinine Ratio (ACR), this test checks the amount of an albumin in the urine. A lot of protein may suggest that the filtering parts of the kidneys have been damaged by disease.  The test may be affected by a lot of exercise or a fever, so it is important that you tell your doctor before this test is given to you about recent activity or illness.

The second test, called the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) tells you how well your kidneys are working to remove wastes from your blood, states the National Kidney Foundation website. It is the best way to check kidney function. Over 90 is good, while 60-89 should be monitored and less than 60 for three months indicates kidney disease.  

Kidney disease prevention

Since the kidneys are such important pieces of our body’s puzzle, it’s important to keep them working right for as long as possible. The ways to prevent kidney disease are not unfamiliar—at least they shouldn’t be. Keeping tabs on the following won’t only help keep your kidneys in line but will also help with the prevention of many other diseases and conditions.

  • Keep blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol controlled
  • Lose weight, if needed
  • Eat healthily
  • Take your prescribed medications
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Avoid over-the-counter medications that filter though the kidneys

For any other information regarding kidney disease and function, visit the National Kidney Foundation.