Blog Post

High-Tech Filters: The Kidneys

March 06, 2020

Blog Post

High-Tech Filters: The Kidneys

March 06, 2020
Talal Khan, MD
Kidneys are high-tech filters because they do so much in addition to filtering.

Our kidneys are incredibly high-tech filters. They are constantly monitoring and working to keep our bodies as healthy as possible. Kidneys filter our blood and keep the things we need, like water, sugar, proteins and electrolytes, and discard the things we don’t need, like urea, ammonia and drug metabolites, which make up our urine. Kidneys are high-tech filters because they do so much in addition to filtering. Kidneys regulate blood pressure, make sure our bodies aren’t too acidic or alkaline, and release certain hormones that tell bone marrow to make red blood cells and activate vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.

Kidneys are amazing but in some people, they break down. When kidneys gradually lose their function, a patient is diagnosed with kidney disease. When kidney disease reaches an advanced stage, dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes build up in the body. An estimated 30 million people, or 15 percent of U.S. adults, are estimated to have kidney disease. Nearly half of the 30 million people with severely reduced kidney function aren’t aware of having the disease. This is because kidneys are incredibly efficient organs. They are able to work at their normal capability with significant kidney damage, so no symptoms typically arise until the damage is critical. The only way to find out for sure if you have kidney disease is through specific blood and urine tests.

A number of factors contribute to kidney disease. If you have a few or many of the following conditions, visit your doctor to be tested for kidney disease. Symptoms for the disease rarely show, so testing is imperative. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity increase the risk of kidney disease. Smoking, a family history of kidney disease, abnormal kidney structure and old age are other potential causes.

There are always measures one can take to prevent kidney disease or lower the risk of increasing kidney damage. Controlling blood pressure and blood sugar, making lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, are ways to reduce the risk. Also, make sure to follow the instructions on over-the-counter medications. Taking too many of certain pain relievers can damage your kidneys. Prevention and management are the biggest steps you can take to living a happy, peaceful and healthy life. Start today.

About the author

Dr. Talal Khan has been with Freeman Kidney Center for more than three years. He earned his medical degree at Rawalpindi Medical College, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, completed his residency in internal medicine at State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y., and completed his fellowship in nephrology at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa. Dr. Khan is board certified in internal medicine, hypertension and nephrology.