What does kidneys do?
Kidney has many functions:
- Maintain fluid balance by urination.
- Red cell production by producing of erythropoietin.
- Balance electrolytes.
- Maintain normal acidity.
- Keep bone and muscle healthy.
- Removal of nitrogenous waste from the body.
- Control blood pressure.
How many kidneys do I have?
You have 2 kidneys, each about 8 to 10 cm in length. They stay at the upper back at each side of the spinal column.
How do I know if my kidneys are not working well?
Your doctor will see abnormalities during history taking, physical examination and lab tests. Kidney cysts, stones, tumor are diagnosed by imaging studies such as ultrasound, MRI or CT scan of the abdomen. Kidney disease can be asymptomatic, however, edema (swelling of the body), lethargy, lost of appetite, pale mucosa, reduced urine and abnormal urine color could be related to weakening kidney function.
What is acute kidney injury?
This is also known as acute renal failure. This probably is the most serious kidney condition. There is a sudden drop in your kidney function and if untreated, the kidney function may not recover. If your doctor suspect you are having acute kidney injury, you will need to see a kidney doctor. You may be admitted to hospital for emergent evaluation and treatment. Outpatient treatment are also possible in some cases of acute kidney injury. Acute kidney injury may or may not require dialysis depending on how weak or strong the kidney is.
What is chronic kidney disease?
This is a chronically weak kidney mostly related to hypertension, diabetes, obesity or other specific kidney diseases. Depending on the level of weakness, your doctor will diagnose you with stage 1 to stage 5 kidney disease where the severity increases as the stage level goes up. Eg. Stage 5 is the most advanced chronic kidney disease which may require dialysis.
What is proteinuria?
This is presence of abnormal level of protein in the urine. This could also be a reason your primary care doctor sends you to a kidney doctor. Proteinuria is a sign of kidney weakness, kidney infection or kidney inflammation, can also be found in association with some cancers.
Useful links for kidney health education materials and e-books: