Humans have two small, bean-shaped organs that are known as the kidneys. The kidneys are located in the small of the back near the vertebral column. They are generally about 4 inches (10 cm) long and about 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) wide. The kidneys are part of the renal system. Interestingly, humans can survive with only one kidney. Kidneys are often donated to those who are diagnosed with kidney disease or failure and require a kidney to live. People awaiting donations often have to undergo dialysis treatment until a donor organ can be found.
The Main Function of the Kidney
The main function of the kidneys is to filter and separate toxins, mineral salts, urea and other waste products from the blood. The waste materials are diverted to the bladder via the kidneys as urine, where they are expelled from the body. As the kidneys filter the blood they also reabsorb water, salts, glucose, amino acids and electrolytes back into the blood stream.
Some of the other functions that the kidneys perform include acid-base homeostasis, osmolality regulation and blood pressure regulation. Acid-base homeostatsis is the act of keeping the body’s pH balanced. The Kidneys play a part in this by reabsorbing bicarbonate and secreting hydrogen ions into the urine. Osmolality regulation is simply making sure that the body has the right mineral salt to water ratio. Your brain sends a signal to the kidneys when your body requires more water and the kidneys complete special functions to absorb more water out of the blood. The kidneys part in blood pressure regulation is to excrete a certain hormone that is part of a group of chemical hormones that control blood pressure. It also expands and contracts to raise and lower blood pressure within the body as needed.
One healthy kidney is needed to ensure that the body’s blood is filtered of the waste products. Without a functioning kidney the waste products such as urea and ammonia build up in the body and eventually cause death.