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What the Kidneys actually do

March 3, 2021


“The kidneys are vital because on a daily and continuous basis, they filter and clean your blood. Remember, as a person goes about their day to day, breathing, ingesting food, they’re constantly making toxins and producing waste in their blood. Also, the kidneys help filter out all those medications and over-the-counter medications that your doctor may give you. Balance your electrolytes, sodium, potassium, phosphorus. You know all of those electrolytes found in Gatorade? Well, your kidneys actually help to keep those electrolytes within a certain normal range. Now in late stage kidney disease, oftentimes certain electrolytes get high and difficult to manage, particularly potassium and phosphorus. Balanced fluids. The kidneys made sure to excrete any extra fluid that you ingest. That’s why when people have kidney disease, they oftentimes will develop swelling in the legs or shortness of breath because extra fluid starts to accumulate in the legs or in the lungs. Control blood pressure.

The kidneys play a vital role in maintaining normal blood pressure, particularly through a hormone called renin. One of the vicious cycles of kidney health is that kidney disease can itself lead to high blood pressure, but high blood pressure in itself can lead to worsening kidney function. So managing blood pressure in these patients is key. Make blood. The kidneys actually secrete a hormone called erythropoietin that stimulates your bone marrow to make blood. As kidney disease progresses, the kidney’s ability to secrete this hormone goes down. That’s why with people with kidney disease, their ability to make blood goes down and they have anemia. Bone health. The kidneys play an active role in the metabolism of vitamin D and calcium, which is crucial to healthy bones. People with kidney disease often have to be on supplements of vitamin D and sometimes develop weak bones.”

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