Now and then we come across news, or hear of medical cases of conditions leading to kidney failure, or complications developing due to kidney failure. What is meant by the condition kidney failure? What does kidney failure lead to? One of the most important functions in the body, the filtration of blood is carried by the kidneys.
What are the essential functions that are performed by the kidneys? The kidneys are associated with two vital functions in the body, firstly urinary function and homeostatic functions such as electrolyte balance, production of red blood cells and regulating blood pressure in the body. That’s about the anatomy! How about the physiology? “Kidneys”, the pair of bean shaped organs in the back of the abdomen of the human anatomy performs essential function. Each kidney is about 4 or 5 inches long and is about the size of a fist.
The functions that the kidneys perform are related to each other. The blood in the body passes through the kidneys several times in a day. As the kidneys filter blood, urine is created which collects in the kidneys’ pelvis – the funnel shaped structures that have tubes called ureters draining in to the bladder. In the process of production of urine, the kidneys are also responsible to reabsorb water, glucose and amino acids. The kidneys also produce certain hormones along with the enzyme rennin, which may act on the kidneys in a negative manner.
Each kidney is made up of millions of microscopic units called nephrons. Each nephron is a microscopic filter for blood, damage in these units and consequently in the kidneys may not be experienced until 90% or more of damage takes place. Symptoms, indication of kidney failure are weakness, shortness of breath, lethargy, confusion that happens due to build-up of waste products in the body. The potassium that builds up in the bloodstream, due to retarded kidney function causes abnormal heart rhythm and eventually death.
The reasons for kidney failure are few. The first step towards correcting kidney function is treatment of the underlying condition. If detected and diagnosed correctly, some causes of kidney failure are treatable and may kidney function may return to normal. But unfortunately, in some other conditions kidney failure is progressive and it may not be possible to restore kidney function. The blood work commonly performed for diagnosis of kidney failure is BUN, creatinine, and glomerular filtration test (GFR).
If the underlying cause of kidney condition is treated on time, kidney function may restore to normal. One of the best ways to prevent chronic kidney disease and its progression to kidney failure is lifelong efforts to control blood pressure and diabetes. No matter how much it is tried, kidney function decreases with time. And in the situation of complete kidney failure, dialysis or kidney transplant are the only treatment options.
How do the kidneys decide the concentration of urine that has to be excreted? The sensors in the kidneys do it all! When blood flows in the kidneys, the sensors decide the concentration of the urine if it should have more water or more concentration of electrolytes. For instance, after exercise or during illness the kidneys hold as much water as possible to avoid dehydration, and thus urine becomes very concentrated. On the contrary, if adequate water is present urine is dilute and clear.
Kidney failure happens from an acute situation or from chronic problems. The reasons for acute kidney failure is due to number of insults in the body such as reduced blood flow to the kidneys that happens due to certain other conditions, direct damage to the kidneys, blockage in the ureters. On the other hand, chronic kidney failure happens due to a long history of uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood sugar.
Jehangir hospital offers various solutions for different kidney conditions ranging from general medicine to kidney transplant surgeries in Pune.
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