The Bean-Shaped Organs

Located beneath the diaphragm, near the lower back of the abdomen are two very important bean-
shaped organs of about 4-5 inches long. They are known as the kidneys. Though each is just the size of a fist, they are vital in the metabolic activities carried out by the body. Each of the kidneys is made up of millions of functional units called nephrons. The nephron has a filter which allows fluid and waste to pass through it but prevents blood cells and large molecules from passing. 
About 1-2 quarts of urine are produced daily by the kidneys. Ureters are two tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder. Each ureter is connected to a kidney. The kidneys receive blood from the renal arteries, filter and drain the blood into the paired renal veins. The waste products which are a combination of excess fluids, urea, chloride, sodium, potassium, creatinine and other dissolved ions, inorganic and organic compounds are passed on through the ureters to the urinary bladder as urine. The urine is stored in the bladder and later passed to the outside through the urethra.
The activities carried out by the kidneys can be summarized as follows:

  ü  Excretion of wastes products through the urine.                                                                                   
  ü  Reabsorption of nutrients such as glucose, amino acids and water.  
  ü  Regulation of electrolyte concentration.
  ü  Secretion of hormones such as renin and erythropoietin that help to regulate blood pressure, keep     bones strong and control production of red blood cells.
  ü  Regulation of acid-base balance.
  ü  Regulation of extracellular body fluids.

Considering the many functions performed by the kidneys, it is necessary that conscious efforts be made to keep the kidneys healthy. It is necessary to -
  • ·         Quit smoking.
  • ·         Control your blood pressure and blood sugar level.
  • ·         Drink adequate amount of fluids especially water.
  • ·         Stay active.
  • ·         Stop the abuse of drugs especially over-the-counter drugs.
  • ·         Eat right to maintain a good weight.
By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi
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