Thursday, April 21, 2011

Objective 51: Describe kidney function

When I was trying to understand the function of the kidneys, I referred to these two slides from chapter 24 lecture power point because they were to the point and provided the important functions of the kidneys. These slides that were provided for the lecture summarized the functions of the kidneys and it was easier to understand all of the functions when they are short and simple. I read and reread the section on the kidneys, but with all the information in the book it made it hard for me to pinpoint the exact functions that the kidneys were responsible for. I am grateful for the slides because they aided in my understanding of the basic information.

Another source of information that I came across in my quest for understanding kidney function was from National Kidney Foundation: How your kidneys work. This passage from the article is also to the point, but it provides a little more information about the functions of the kidneys that was helpful to me and provided me with a little bit of an "ah ha" spark. The kidneys are a very important part of our body system, and also an organ that I didn't realize played such a vital vole in our bodies homeostasis. I never realized how important the kidneys functions were to our body until my mother was diagnosed with a rare disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Although Wegener's disease is known as an autoimmune disease, this disease majorly effects the upper respiratory tract, lungs and kidneys. My mother was seriously ill for almost a year, but she thankfully caught the disease in time and is currently in remission. If the disease was left untreated, Glomerulonephritis may develop and the kidneys won't be able to filter out wastes and excess fluids from the body properly. This causes accumulation of wastes products in the blood stream and cause kidney failure. Until my mother was diagnoised with this disease, I always took forgranted the importance the kidneys play in our body. Now I have a better understanding of the function of this organ.

The kidneys perform several important jobs including the removal of chemical and mineral impurities from the blood, balancing acid in the blood, and controlling body fluids. These delicate processes take place when blood flows through the kidneys. The kidneys also help to control your body’s production of red blood cells, regulate blood pressure, and help keep bones strong and healthy. Each kidney has about a million tiny nephrons. Each nephron has a group of tiny blood vessels called a glomerulus. The glomerulus is the small structure in charge of filtering and 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”.
The kidneys filter almost 200 quarts of blood every day and make approximately two quarts of urine as the waste product. When the kidneys don't work like they should, products in the blood which are supposed to be removed, like the blood urea nitrogen (BUN), and creatinine (Cr) stay in the blood and can be easily measured with a blood test. Other products that are supposed to stay in the blood, like proteins, end up in the urine and can be measured with a urine test.

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