The kidneys are a pair of organs located along the posterior muscular wall of the abdominal cavity. The left kidney is slightly situated more superiorly than the right kidney due to the larger size of the liver on the right side of the body, compared to other abdominal organs. Both kidneys lie behind the peritoneum that lines the abdominal cavity and are thus considered to be retroperitoneal organs. The ribs and muscles of the back protect the kidneys from external damage. Adipose tissue known as prerenal fat surrounds the kidneys and acts as protective padding.
What does the kidney do?
The kidneys are vital to our overall health, they filter waste products from the blood before turning it to urine.Almost 1/3 of all blood leaving the heart passes into the kidneys to be filtered before circulating to the rest of the body tissues.
An individual could live with only one functioning kidney, our kidneys are one of the main organsin the body. Any loss of both kidneys would lead to a rapid accumulation of wastes products of metabolism in the body and when adequate care and treatment is not given, it could lead to death within a few days.
Health tips on how to Care for your Kidney
Kidneys are vital to your overall health, so it’s important to look after them. Here are somehealthy life styles to keep your kidney in good condition.
Drinking plenty of fluid will help your kidneys function properly. The urine should be amber or straw-coloured. If it’s any darker that may be a sign of dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in.
When the normal water content in the body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in the body, which affects the way it functions.
Water makes up over two-thirds of the healthy human body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, flushes out waste and toxins, and keeps the organ and skin healthy.
Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include: headache, feeling of thirst, lightheaded and tiredness, dry mouth, dark coloured and strong-smelling urine, passing urine less often than usual.
A baby may be dehydrated if they: they have a sunken eye and soft spot (fontanelle) on their head, have few or no tears when they cry, fewer wet nappies are drowsy.
The body is affected even when you lose a small amount of fluid.
Causes of dehydration
Dehydration is usually caused by not drinking enough fluid to replace what we lose. The climate, the amount of physical exercise you are doing (particularly in hot weather) and your diet can contribute to dehydration.
An individual can also become dehydrated as a result of an illness, such as persistent vomiting and diarrhoea, or sweating from a fever.
Who is at risk from dehydration?
Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain groups are particularly at risk. These include: babies and infants – they have a low body weight and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss
The older people – they may be less aware that they are becoming dehydrated and need to keep drinking fluids
Some people with a long-term health condition – such as diabetes or alcoholism, dementia.
Athletes – they can lose a large amount of body fluid through sweat when exercising for long period of time.
What to do when dehydrated
If you’re dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea or coffee. Fizzy drinks may contain more sugar than you need and may be harder to take in large amounts.
If you’re finding it difficult to keep water down because you’re vomiting, try drinking small amounts more frequently.
Infants and small children who are dehydrated shouldn’t be given large amounts of water alone as the main replacement fluid. This is because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body too much and lead to other problems.
Instead, they should be given diluted squash or a rehydration solution available from pharmacies. You might find a teaspoon or syringe can be helpful for getting fluid into a young child.
If left untreated, with severe dehydration it can be serious and cause fits (seizures), brain damage and death.
When to seek medical advice
You need to see your Doctor or GP if your symptoms continues, despite drinking plenty of fluids, or if you think your baby or toddler is dehydrated.
If your GP suspects dehydration, you may have a blood test or a urine test to check the balance of salts (sodium and potassium) in your body.
Seek an immediate medical help and support straight away if you have any of the following symptoms: extreme thirst, feeling unusually tired (lethargic) or confused not passing urine for eight hours, rapid heartbeat, dizziness when you stand up that doesn’t go away after a few seconds.
You should also contact your Doctor, if your baby has had six or more episodes of diarrhoea in the past 24 hours, or if they have vomited three times or more in the past 24 hours.
How much should one drink to keep their kidney healthy?
Studies have tried to establish a recommended daily fluid intake, but it can vary depending on the individual and factors such as age, climate and physical activity.
It is a good practice to drink enough fluid so that you’re not thirsty for long periods and to steadily increase your fluid intake when exercising and during hot weather. Passing clear urine is a good sign that you’re well hydrated.
An individual should drink plenty of fluid if you have symptoms of dehydration, such as feeling thirst and light-headedness, or passing of dark coloured urine. It is also important to replace fluid lost after an episode of diarrhoea and vomiting.