Kidneys and its importance

What is Kidney?

Kidneys are a bean shaped organ, two in number located on either side of the spine. Each is about the size of a fist. Microscopically, they are made up of millions of small units called nephron. It is these nephrons which are responsible for filtration of blood and formation of urine by the kidneys.

How is urine formed and micturation happens?

Kidney receives blood through renal arteries and then filters them through nephrons, and thus the urine is formed. Hereafter, urine is passed into the two ureters ( each one arising from respective kidney) and finally into the urinary bladder. Urinary Bladder acts as a reservoir for urine, which on receiving signal from the brain releases the urine through a passage called urethra and thus, the act of micturation ( passage of urine) takes place.

As you can see that simple act of passing urine, actually takes place with help of a complex system of many interconnected organs which are working round the clock so as to keep our body fluids balanced.

What are the functions of kidney ?

Kidney as an organ has utmost importance in removing waste products from our body, along with balancing of body fluids. These two functions are of high significance as they are responsible to maintain homeostasis of our body.

However, kidney role does not end there, it is imperative for many other functions.

Our blood pressure is majorly regulated by kidneys, thus kidney diseases often present with hypertension.

It has role in maintaining our hemoglobin, as it produces EPO (erythropoietin ) which helps in RBC production.

Kidney helps in maintaining bone health and keeps calcium balance, and is thus very important in growth of children.

Aren’t kidney problems uncommon in children?

Kidney disease is a global public health problem that affects more than 750 million persons worldwide.The burden of kidney disease varies substantially across the world, and evidence suggests that its incidence may be much more than reported in developing countries like India due to lack of data accuracy.

Amongst a huge burden of kidney diseases in India, pediatric kidney diseases are often ignored and pediatric patients, specific needs are time and again overlooked.

As reported by various centers, about 10 %- 12% admission in pediatric department are due to kidney related diseases. However, this does not reflect true numbers, as majority of pediatric patients are still treated by adult nephrologists.

What are the symptoms of kidney disease?

Unfortunately, most of the kidney diseases do silent damage and seldom, we find overt symptoms in all the cases. Most of the patients are not aware, and by the time they are diagnosed they have already reached the stage of kidney failure.

Some of the common signs and symptoms which a one can recognize are blood in urine, swelling over eyes or feet, burning micturation , decreased urine, urinary incontinence , bed wetting .

Nevertheless, there always subtle signs and symptoms which may be noticed either by parents or general practitioner such as anemia, poor growth and development, short stature ,hypertension , urinary tract infections ( especially if recurrent)

What Can You Do?

Certain steps can be taken for early recognition and treatment of kidney disease in children.

Regular health check up, yearly BP measurement, monitoring growth and development parameters at every visit.

Any of the above mentioned signs and symptoms, one should consult their doctor at the earliest and seek specialist help whenever necessary.

Following medication prescription accurately is another aspect which often overlooked. A regular follow up, monitoring and following prescription orders correctly are of extreme importance for good outcomes

One should not undermine the importance of healthy diet and regular exercise. Obesity significantly adds to morbidity of any medical condition thus, a well cooked home based diet as recommended by your doctor should be followed along with daily exercise routine.