KIDNEY FUNCTION

Everyone is born with a pair of kidneys, located on the right and left side of one’s upper abdomen. Shaped like beans and about the size of a fist, kidneys perform the critical function of keeping your body clean by removing waste and unwanted fluids.

The kidneys work as a pair of filters for the body’s blood, cycling numerous times daily. The process includes the following steps:

  • The renal artery carries blood to the kidneys directly from the heart.
  • The blood is filtered clean by means of millions of tiny filters – called nephrons – inside each kidney.
  • The clean blood is filtered through to the body while the collected waste is sent to the bladder by means of tubes called ureters.
  • The waste is stored in the bladder as urine and expelled.

Our kidneys work around the clock cleaning our blood and keeping our body healthy.

REASONS FOR KIDNEY FAILURE

Untreated kidneys malfunction leads to organ failure as more and more nephrons stop working. Some of the most common reasons that lead to kidney failure include the following:

  • An unaddressed blood pressure condition
  • A condition inherited from earlier generations, e.g. cysts
  • Recurring infections in the urinary tract
  • Unflushed deposits of waste called kidney stones
  • Persistent drug abuse
  • Poorly managed diabetes

COMMON DISORDERS THAT AFFECT KIDNEYS

A number of disorders develop in the kidneys when the organs begin to deteriorate. In most cases, kidney disorder leads to eventual failure. This condition is often called Chronic Kidney Disease. This disease is briefly described below.

CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE (CKD)

INTRODUCTION: CKD may take years to develop, potentially growing unnoticed, and ultimately escalating to its most detrimental phase called End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Once it has reached the ESRD phase, CKD can only be treated with frequent rounds of hemodialysis or organ transplant.

SYMPTOMS OF ESRD: While CKD grows quietly in the kidneys – often without any noticeable sign of disease – it can be diagnosed based on the following symptoms, which usually manifest in an affected pair of kidneys:

  • Swelling of limbs and parts of the face
  • Continuous exhaustion and fatigue
  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Persistently high blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite

TREATMENT OF ESRD: Dialysis treatment is provided for patients who have developed ESRD with a loss of at least 85% of kidney function. Dialysis keeps the body functioning by removing waste, salt, and excess fluids from the body, maintaining a safe level of certain chemicals in the blood, such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonates.

Dialysis can be performed in a hospital, healthcare center, outpatient clinic, or at home. Patients suffering from ESRD should speak to their doctors about the treatment option that suits them best.

ESRD & GOOD NUTRITION

Healthy eating habits are important for everyone, but especially for those with ESRD. Good nutrition can help to maintain energy levels, prevent infection, avoid muscle loss, and slow down the progression of kidney disease.

Patients with ESRD may need to monitor the amount of protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium in their diet. Consult with a doctor or registered dietician about maintaining a balanced diet in order stay healthy and feeling well.

RESOURCES FOR FURTHER READING

These links are informational purposes only. They are not affiliated with Concerto Renal Services.

National Kidney Foundation www.kidney.org
American Association of Kidney Patients www.aakp.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases www.niddk.nih.gov
Renal Diet Cookbooks www.nwkidney.org/living-with-kidney-disease/recipes/
Find a Dialysis Center www.dialysisfinder.com
Nephron Information Center www.nephron.com

OUR MISSION

To be the provider of choice for nursing home dialysis patients through collaborative coordination, with a focus on superior customer service and client relations in harmony with individual and organizational needs. To provide a unique service with advanced technologies and best practices for positive outcomes and optimal care.