Our kidneys — two fist-sized organs below the rib cage on either side of the spine — are responsible for filtering the blood circulating in our body 24 hours a day, ensuring that what we need gets absorbed and what we don’t gets expelled. Most people probably don’t give the process much thought.

Why are healthy kidneys important?

Just imagine not being able to get rid of the bad or unnecessary substances that may be present in your body. They can build up, become toxic and affect other organs such as the heart and bones, sometimes causing permanent damage. 

Think of the kidneys like plumbing. You know what happens to your pipes at home when you don’t flush them out — sludge builds up, roots grow in them and they may clog and back up.  And that is not good!  The kidneys can have the same type of problems if you don’t take care of them.  

What are causes of kidney damage?

Kidney disease can result from many medical conditions, especially high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions should be monitored regularly by your primary care provider. Other causes of kidney disease include stones within – or blocking – the kidneys, as well as some rare cancers.

If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor to get a check-up:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain in the flank that is constant and unbearable

How can you protect your kidneys?

Stay in shape. Regular exercise and eating a healthy 1,800-calorie diet is recommended.  

Drink water regularly. Flushing the kidneys daily with 64 ounces of water is critical.  Adding some lemon in water also helps. There is no substitute for water – NONE!

The bottom line – treat your body and kidneys with respect. The greatest thing you can do in your life is to protect your body. It is the biggest investment you can make – your body deserves it and your family deserves it!

Visit our website for more information on our Minimally Invasive Urology Institute and Kidney Stone Center.

Gyan Pareek, MD, FACS

Gyan Pareek, MD, FACS

Dr. Gyan Pareek is chief of the Division of Urology and is co-director of the Minimally Invasive Urology Institute and director of the Kidney Stone Center at The Miriam Hospital. His areas of expertise include kidney stones, prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.