Back To CourseLife Science: Middle School
35 chapters | 241 lessons
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Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.
I would like to start a petition to get some well-deserved recognition for the kidney; maybe create a day and call it the National Kidney Fairness Day. I feel this is needed because the poor lonely kidneys are the most underappreciated organs of the body. Sure, everyone loves the heart, especially on Valentine's Day, and the brain, well it's always grabbing our attention, but who really cares about the kidneys? Well, you should! Your kidneys keep your body balanced, and without the kidneys working to rid your body of wastes, you would be a human toxic garbage dump. In fact, the kidney is such an important organ that you were given two of them!
Your kidneys look like kidney beans, which are the type of beans you might find in a bowl of chili. Of course, your kidneys are quite a bit bigger. Each one is about four to five inches long and two or three inches wide, which is a little bigger than the mouse you use for your computer. You find them about midway up your back, right around the bottom of your rib cage. You have one on each side, and if you wrap your arms around your midsection like you are giving yourself a hug, then feel for the bottom rib, your hands will be over top of your kidneys.
What I like about the kidneys is that they are willing to pitch in and do the jobs that the other organs don't want to do. Specifically, I am talking about cleaning up. Your kidneys function as the janitors of your body because they filter and remove wastes from the blood. The blood in your bloodstream runs through your kidneys about 400 times a day!
The blood vessel that carries blood to the kidney is called your renal artery. 'Renal' is the scientific word used to describe things related to the kidneys. The blood in this artery is littered with wastes. Some of these wastes are normal by-products of work done by your cells that your body has no use for, kind of like the pencil shavings from a pencil sharpener. Other wastes are from the foods and drinks you take in; once your body takes out the nutrients it needs, the leftovers are looked at as trash by your body and sent off to your kidneys.
Inside your kidneys, these wastes travel through the kidneys' filters, called nephrons. Each kidney has about a million nephrons, so they are pretty good at catching all of the stuff you no longer need. These wastes get mixed with water and are then sent out of your kidney through the ureters, which are long tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The bladder stores this water and waste combination, which is now called urine, until you go to the bathroom. If your kidneys didn't get rid of these wastes, they would build up inside of you and cause all kinds of damage.
Your kidneys are not just good at cleaning up wastes. They also balance fluid levels in your body. You take in fluids when you drink or eat foods that contain water, like fruits, vegetables and soups. Some of this fluid has to stay in your body in order for it to function properly, but keep too much and you would swell up like a balloon.
To keep just the right amount of fluid inside of you, your kidneys listen to hormones, which are chemical messengers that travel around your body. When you don't have enough fluid, hormones tell your kidneys to produce less urine. When there is too much fluid inside of you, these hormones get quiet and make more urine, which basically drains the body of excess fluids and makes you have to go to the bathroom more often.
Maintaining fluid balance and cleaning up the body are enough reasons in my book to dedicate a special day of recognition to our kidneys. Yet, the kidneys do even more for us! For example, the kidneys actually find the time to adjust your blood pressure. They do this by producing a hormone that makes your blood vessels get narrower. When this happens, blood goes through your blood vessels with more pressure. It's kind of like holding your finger over part of the mouth on a garden hose. Because your finger makes the opening of the hose narrower, the water spurts out under more pressure.
Your kidneys also help make red blood cells by producing yet another hormone. Your red blood cells start as immature cells inside your bones, in a place called the bone marrow. When you need more red blood cells, the hormone from your kidneys sends a message to your bones and tells them to get busy and crank out more blood cells.
You have a pair of kidneys that sit about midway up your back, right around the bottom of your rib cage.
Your kidneys function as the janitors of your body because they filter and remove wastes from the blood. Blood that contains wastes comes into your kidneys through the renal artery and travels through nephrons, which are the kidney's filters. The wastes get mixed with water, becoming urine that travels through the ureters, which are long tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder.
Your kidneys also balance fluid levels in your body by listening to hormones, which are chemical messengers that travel around your body. When you don't have enough fluid, hormones tell your kidneys to produce less urine, and when you have too much fluid, these hormones get quiet and you make more urine.
Your kidneys have other functions as well. We learned that they adjust your blood pressure by producing a hormone that makes your blood vessels get narrower. They also help make red blood cells by producing a different hormone that tells your bone marrow when you need more of them.
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Back To CourseLife Science: Middle School
35 chapters | 241 lessons