What I learned in Module 1 of Kidney School

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Kidney School Module 1

Kidney’s: How they Work, How they Fail, What you can do!

Kidneys Can be Compared to a Water Treatment Plant: They filter out a lot of the toxins that accumulate in our blood and make sure that we stay healthy.

Jobs of the Kidney

  1. Filter Blood and Remove Wastes
  2. Balancing Levels of Chemicals in the Body
  3. Release hormones to control blood pressure and other functions.

How They Work: Filter

  1. Blood Enters the Kideny through the Renal Artery.
  2. Blood passes through millions of nephrons which are filtering centers that filter the blood.
  3. Glomerulus - blood vessel inside each nephron that keeps all the red blood cells in and removes all of the wastes. Acts like a Strainer.
  4. Urine is produced and travels through the Ureter to the Bladder.

Balance Sensors inside the nephrons keep track of the level of chemicals in the blood. These chemicals include potassium, sodium, and phosphorus. They add what they need and get rid of what they dont need.


Renin and Angiotensin - Blood pressure hormones. Maintain levels of blood pressure by controlling how much sodium and fluid the body saves and how elastic the veins are. People who have kidney disease take blood pressure medications because often their kidneys have lost their ability to control blood pressure.

erythropoietin (EPO) - tells the bone marrow to make more RBC. People with kidney disease may suffer from anemia in which they have a shortage of RBC. This can be treated with injections of EPO and also more iron.

calcitriol - This hormone allows more calcium to be absorbed from food. Without it, calclium is stolen from the bones and this can lead to bone diease.

Kidneys weigh around 5 oz. and are the size of your fist. It is possible to live a normal lifestyle with one kidney because they are so efficient.

Kidney Diseases

ARF - Acute Renal Failure - Sudden Onset often caused by injuries, illnesses, or toxin that stresses the kidneys. Often can be treated and reversed.

CKD - Chronic Kidney Diesease - Slow process in which people slowly lose their kidney functions.

Signs of CKD

When Kidney functions is less than 15% it is commonly refered to as Chronic Kidney Failure, or End Stage Renal Disease. (ESRD) Important: Just because your kidney function ends does not mean that your LIFE ends.

Although CKD is not curable there are a lot of treatment options that can allow you to live a more comfortable life and slow down the disease significantly if caught early.


Anemia Treatments - (anemia - shortage of RBC) Begins early in Kidney Failure and can cause damange to the heart.

Medications - i.e ACE Inhibitors (Blood Pressure Medication) Help preserve kidney fucntion

Diet Change - Some believe that low protein diet can slow down kidney diesease

Avoiding OTC Pain Meds like - Ibuprofin, Acetominophen, naproxen, combo of pain Meds + Caffiene = damange kidneys

Regular Blood Pressure Checks - Hypertension can cause or speed up Kidney Failure

Blood Sugar Checks For Diabetics

ESRD - Uremia

Uremia Occurs when the Kidneys stop working. The body fills up with extra fluid that would otherwise be filtered out.

Uremia Effects different parts of the body differently

Head - headaches, fatigue, fuzzy thinking Mouth - Food taste differnt or metalic Blood Vessels - High Blood Pressure Lungs - Shortness of Breath Hands/Feet - Swelling Stomach - Loss of Appetite/ Vomiting Bladder - Less or no Urine is produced

III. Causes of Chronic Kidney Disease

Most common cause is type 2 diabetes.

3 Types of Diabetes

Type 1 - Pancreas has shut down completely. Pancreas produces insulin. People with Type 1 need to take insulin in order to survive. This is most common in children and young people.

Type 2 - Body still produces insulin but not enough to be healthy. Diet, exercise, pills, and insulin can be used to treat this. This is 10 times more common than type 1 and many people do not know that they have it.

Type 3 - Gestational Diabetes only occurs in pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is over it usually goes away but women who suffer from this type are more likely to develop type 2 later in life.

The second most common cause is hypertension. 1 out of 6 people in the US have hypertension.

IV. Common Issues with Living with Kidney Disease


Most common treatements are Dialysis or Kidney Transplant.

People on dialysis can still live a good life, the choices they make effect weather or not they can survive.

Prior to 1972 many people who could have benefited from dialysis were not able to get it. Thanks to medicare this treatment option is now more widespread and available to many people. Thanks to Dialysis ESRD is not longer a death sentence.

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