Kidney Diseases

Kidney Diseases
Also called: Renal disease


You have two kidneys, each about the size of your fist. They are near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage. Inside each kidney there are about a million tiny structures called nephrons. They filter your blood. They remove wastes and extra water, which become urine. The urine flows through tubes called ureters. It goes to your bladder, which stores the urine until you go to the bathroom.

Most kidney diseases attack the nephrons. This damage may leave kidneys unable to remove wastes. Causes can include genetic problems, injuries, or medicines. You have a higher risk of kidney disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a close family member with kidney disease. Chronic kidney disease damages the nephrons slowly over several years. Other kidney problems include:

1 in 10 people worldwide have CKD

One in 10 people worldwide have chronic kidney disease, according to The Global Kidney Health Atlas, presented at this week’s World Congress of Nephrology in Mexico City and compiled by the International Society of Nephrology.

One in three people in the general population worldwide is at increased risk of CKD, and the report estimates that 9 in 10 of those with CKD  are unaware of their condition.

Among high-income countries, Saudi Arabia and Belgium have the highest estimated CKD prevalence (24%), followed by Poland (18%), Germany (17%) and the UK and Singapore (16%). Norway and the Netherlands have the lowest estimates at 5%. The United States’ estimated prevalence is 14%, while Canada and Australia are 13%.


Your Kidneys & How They Work

  • Why are the kidneys important?
  • How do my kidneys work?
  • How does blood flow through my kidneys?
  • Clinical Trials

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of your spine.

Healthy kidneys filter about a half cup of blood every minute, removing wastes and extra water to make urine. The urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side of your bladder. Your bladder stores urine. Your kidneys, ureters, and bladder are part of your urinary tract.

Why are the kidneys important?

Your kidneys remove wastes and extra fluid from your body. Your kidneys also remove acid that is produced by the cells of your body and maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals—such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium—in your blood.

Without this balance, nerves, muscles, and other tissues in your body may not work normally.

Your kidneys also make hormones that help

  • control your blood pressure
  • make red blood cellsNIH external link
  • keep your bones strong and healthy

Watch a video about what the kidneys do External link.

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