6 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Kidneys

Computerized outline of human body with kidneys and bladder highlightedThe kidneys, two organs located on either side of your spine just above the waist, perform several life-sustaining roles. They cleanse your blood by removing waste and excess fluids, maintain the balance of salt and minerals in your blood, and help regulate blood pressure.

Each bean-shaped kidney is 4 to 5 inches long and contains about a million nephrons, which are like tiny pouches. Each nephron has a filter at one end, called a glomerulus, to filter your blood. Your overall kidney function can be measured by how quickly blood is filtered through these glomeruli. This measurement is called the glomerular filtration rate.

When the kidneys become damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in the body, causing a swelling in your hands and feet, shortness of breath, problems with urination. If left untreated, diseased kidneys may eventually stop functioning completely. Loss of kidney function is a serious — potentially fatal — condition.

The Role of Your Kidneys

• Maintain your body’s balance of water and concentration of minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus in your blood.