It’s important to know that each year in the United States, more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with kidney failure, a serious condition in which the kidneys fail to rid the body of wastes. Kidney failure is the final stage of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease in the United States. About 30 percent of patients with Type 1 diabetes and 10 to 40 percent of those with Type 2 diabetes will suffer from kidney failure. There are currently about 180,000 people living with kidney failure as a result of diabetes. Additional risks include individuals with high blood pressure, a family history of kidney disease and being a person of color.
What Do Kidneys Do?
Most people know the primary function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body, but don’t realize their many other functions:
- Remove drugs and other toxins from the body
- Balance the body’s fluids
- Release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- Produce a form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
- Controls the production of red blood cells
There are two kidneys, each about the size of a fist, located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage.
The artery brings blood and wastes from the bloodstream into the kidneys. Each kidney is made up of a million tiny nephrons. Each nephron has a group of tiny blood vessels called a glomerulus which act as the filtering unit in charge of cleaning the blood as it flows through the kidney. The rate at which the glomerulus filters the blood is called the glomerular filtration rate or “GFR”.
After filtration, the remaining fluid passes into a tubule where chemicals and water are either added to, or removed from, according to the body’s needs. Clean blood leaves the kidneys and goes back into the bloodstream through the vein. Waste and extra fluid are removed from the body via urine.
The kidneys filter about 200 quarts of fluid every 24 hours. About two quarts of liquid are removed from the body in the form of urine, and about 198 quarts are recovered.