Your kidneys are amazing machines
Your kidneys are important parts of your body—very sophisticated machines that, every day, process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The wastes and extra water become urine, which flows to the bladder through tubes called ureters. The bladder stores urine until releasing it through urination.
Most people have two, but sometimes, people are born with only one kidney. In other cases, disease or injury can inhibit the function of one or both kidneys. In fact, research has found that people can function normally if only 20 percent of one kidney is working.
Your kidneys are about the size of your fist and are shaped like kidney beans. They are located on the backside of your torso, with one on either side of the spine near your waistline. Your kidneys are amazing organs that handle several important tasks:
- Remove waste products
- Regulate total body fluid by balancing water and salt
- Help make strong bones and red blood cells
- Control the amount of potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in the blood
Properly functioning, your kidneys easily perform all of these tasks—every day for a lifetime. Without adequate kidney function, however, there can be a build-up of poisonous waste products, high blood pressure, anemia, as well as fluid overload (too much fluid) that can cause swelling and shortness of breath. Conditions and diseases related to an impaired function of your kidneys are collectively called “kidney failure.