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Understanding the Basic Function and Health of Your Kidneys

Healthy kidneys are essential to your overall health. If your kidneys fail, you will need lifesaving treatment through dialysis or transplant to prevent toxins from building up in your body. It is important to talk to your doctor about your risk for kidney disease and to take steps to protect the health of your kidneys for life. Here is a closer look at what your kidneys do and what you need to know about kidney disease.

What do kidneys do?

Kidneys are responsible for removing waste and excess fluid from your body through the process of creating urine. By removing waste and fluids, the kidneys balance levels of sodium, potassium, and acid in the body, which is critical for heart and vascular health. They also release hormones that affect other parts of the body, including hormones that control blood pressure and regulate red blood cell production, as well as those that create vitamin D to protect your bones.

What causes kidneys to malfunction?

Many chronic health conditions can impact the health of the kidneys. Diabetes is a common culprit, as is high blood pressure. Some people are born with kidney abnormalities that lead to chronic kidney disease or with an inherited condition called polycystic kidney disease. The kidneys are also vulnerable to overuse of over-the-counter pain medications, certain prescription medications, and illicit drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.

How are kidney problems treated?

In many cases, kidney disease can be managed or reversed by treating the underlying condition that caused it. For instance, people with diabetes can prevent existing kidney problems from becoming worse with tight blood sugar control. When kidney disease is chronic and can’t be treated, it usually becomes progressive and eventually needs to be managed through dialysis or transplant.

Kidney disease can lead to a range of complications, including heart attack and stroke, and it can exacerbate other chronic conditions. At Kendall Regional Medical Center, our specialists can help you manage these diseases and reduce the risk of complications. Contact our hospital near Miami to request a physician referral by calling (305) 222-2200.

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