The kidneys are vital for human health and survival. They perform not one, but several different functions which will be discussed in this article. But many people don’t know where the kidneys are in the body, and they often ask, “where are my kidneys located”?
The reasons for wishing to know where kidneys are located are numerous. It may be because you need to know how to protect these vital organs. It may be out of sheer curiousity.
But the question, “where are kidneys located?” may have been prompted by kidney problems. Kidney problems are of many different types. And kidney problems are very common and increasing all over the world.
WHAT ARE KIDNEYS?
Kidneys are two bean-shaped abdominal organs. One is on the left side, and the other is on the right side of the abdomen. They are composed entirely of soft tissues, no bones.
Each kidney has blood vessels and nerves going towards and away from it. It also has tubes leading away from it, towards the bladder which is in the pelvis.
Greek and Latin are the source languages of medical terms. So you may come across Greek and Latin words that describe many things related to the kidney(s).
In Greek, the kidney is called nefró. Therefore you will frequently come across “nephro-” in health settings e.g. nephrology, nephrotoxicity
In Latin, the kidney is called “renibus” and anything of or belonging to the kidney(s) is “renalis”. Therefore you will frequently come across “renal” in health settings e.g. renal function tests, renal ultrasound.
THE FUNCTION OF KIDNEYS
Many people know kidneys as organs that remove waste materials from the body. This is correct, but incomplete. Kidneys do function to purify the blood by removing waste products like urea and creatinine.
But kidneys are also responsible for maintaining
– electrolyte balance
– fluid balance
in the blood and hence the whole body.
Kidneys produce a hormone called ERYTHROPOIETIN. This hormone is responsible for stimulating the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. Because red blood cells transport oxygen in our bodies, kidneys perform a function on which life depends.
Kidneys also take part in the production of the active form of Vitamin D. Vitamin D controls bone formation. Kidneys are therefore vital to bone health, especially because they also excrete calcium.
* Summary of the function of kidneys
– excretion of waste materials
– fluid balance
– electrolyte balance
– blood formation or erythropoiesis
– metabolic functions
LIST OF KIDNEY PROBLEMS
Things can go wrong with the kidneys. A smart way to describe kidney problems, is to divide them into:
– problems before reaching the kidneys (pre-renal)
– problems within the kidneys (renal or intra-renal)
(Pic: Polycystic kidney disease)
– problems after leaving the kidneys (post-renal)
The commonest kidney problems are:
– inheritable conditions like polycystic kidney disease
– kidneys affected by general or systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension
– kidney stones
– kidneys affected by toxins including medications
– trauma to the kidneys
We are next going to answer the important question of where’s the kidney in the body.
WHERE KIDNEYS LOCATED
Kidney pain location gives people who have had the diagnosis of kidney pain (or those close to them) a clear understanding of where kidneys are located. Kidney pain is located where kidneys are located, with little variation.
People experiencing kidney pain such as “renal colic”, hold the upper back aspect of their abdomens. This is the loin region.
The kidneys are right at the back of the abdomen. And they are actually embedded in the posterior or back wall of the abdomen.
The kidneys are almost entirely shielded by the ribs. Only a few millimetres of the lower poles of both kidneys, “peep” and are palpable below the rib cage. This is Nature’s perfect way of protecting the kidneys from traumatic insult.
It is hoped that this article has helped you in regard to the following:
– what is the kidney?
– the structure of the kidney
– the functions of the kidney
– where are your kidneys located
– kidney problems / what can go wrong with the kidneys
Hopefully the above information has equipped you to better look after your kidneys. It has made it easier for you to recognise symptoms and signs that could be of kidney origin.
In this way, even when kidney health is likely to be compromised, you can take speedy action to seek professional help.
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