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The Kidneys

Each day, the kidneys pump about 200 litres of blood through 140 miles of tubes and millions of filters.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 08, 2003 21:52 IST
PTI

Most people have two kidneys, each the size of a fist.These are located on either side of the backbone, just above the small of the back. Each day, the kidneys pump about 200 litres of blood through 140 miles of tubes and millions of filters.

What Kidneys Do

Kidney act like a 24-hour cleaning crew for your blood.

They filter out waste products. They get rid of excess water. They balance electrolytes in your blood such as potassium and sodium.They remove excess acid.

They regulate blood pressure.

They also produce a hormone to help the bone marrow make red blood cells.

They maintain Calcium levels in the body.

How Kidneys Work

Your kidneys receive the blood from the renal artery, process it and return the processed blood to the body through the renal vein. They send out the wastes through the urine. Urine flows from the kidneys through the ureters to the bladder. In the bladder, the urine is stored until it is excreted from the body through the urethra.

The basic filtering unit of the kidney is called the nephron. Every kidney has about a million nephrons. In the nephron, tiny blood vessels called capillaries intertwine with tiny urine-carrying tubes called tubules. By filtration, the small ions and molecules from the blood are removed. The valuable components among these are re absorbed. The excess is sent out with the urine.


What happens when kidneys fail?

Conditions like Diabetes and Hypertentioninterfere with the filtering capacity of the nephrons. Just one kidney, working at 20% capacity, can keep you healthy.Below that level you begin to feel tired or weak, and lose you your appetite.This is because:

Toxic wastes start to build up in the blood.

Fluid collects causing tissue swelling, lung congestion and high blood pressure.

(Source: Webhealthcentre.com)