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Clue up for World Kidney Day 2014

Published: 13 Mar 2014

World Kidney Day -  it's time for everyone to get clued up about these vital organs.

Today is World Kidney Day, a global awareness campaign which has been running since 2006, aiming to give everyone the opportunity to learn more about why their kidneys are such a crucial part of the body and what individuals can be doing to safeguard their health.

Each year, there is a different theme, with 2014's being 'Chronic Kidney Disease and Ageing'. However, the UK has adopted a slightly more general topic of 'Kidney health matters - help reduce the risk to your kidneys'.

What are the kidneys and what do they do?

A person's kidneys are situated in the back, under the lower ribs. They look rather like two large beans.

They are vital for filtering waste products from the blood and turning these into urine, which can then be passed out of the body when an individual goes to toilet.

Put simply, they clean the blood, which flows to the kidneys from the heart in arteries and away from them in veins. They are capable of processing as much as 200 litres of fluid every 24 hours.

These clever organs are also able to identify toxins in the blood from other components, so they know what they need to remove from the blood and what they need to put back into it, to be transported around your body.

Similarly, they are able to monitor water and salt levels in the blood, in order to ascertain your hydration levels.

They are also involved in the production of certain hormones involved in regulating blood pressure and supporting red blood cell production by the bone marrow.

How can I keep them healthy?

As is the case with your vital organs and general overall health, there is no real mystery to keeping the kidneys healthy.

First of all, it is important to stay well hydrated. If urine is any darker than a pale, straw colour, then this could be a sign of dehydration, as the kidneys are not allowing much water to be passed in the urine.

Secondly, a healthy diet is an absolute must to ensure the body is getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals that it needs to keep these crucial organs ticking over and doing their jobs. It is also advised to keep salt and fat intake to a minimum.

In terms of lifestyle habits, both smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol are ill-advised, as doing so requires the kidneys to work especially hard to remove all of the extra toxins from the blood.

Keeping weight in check can also help the kidneys to do their job, as if an individual is overweight, they may experience hypertension (high blood pressure), which can make life difficult for the kidneys.

People should go along to their local GP and have their blood pressure checked every now and then. While high blood pressure itself does not have any symptoms, it can increase the risk of other health problems developing.

Kidney problems

It is vital that people take the health of their kidneys seriously.

The four most common issues with these organs are infections, kidney stones, kidney disease and cancer, with the latter accounting for two to three per cent of all adult cancer cases.

Meanwhile, incidences of kidney disease are on the rise in the UK, likely as a result of the increase in cases of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

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