Sponsored by: Renadyl™ 

Patients with kidney disease often hear words that start with the prefix nephro- (nephrology, nephrologist, nephrotic syndrome, nephropathy, nephrectomy). These words are derived from the Greek word nephros, which means kidney. However, how do these words relate to your kidney disease?

Prefix + Suffix

  • Nephro + ology = the study of kidneys
  • Nephro + logist = a doctor who specializes in kidney disease
  • Nephr + itis = a kidney inflammation
  • Nephr + otic = related to the kidney
  • Nephro +pathy = disease of the kidney
  • Nephr + ectomy – removal of a kidney.

In addition to these words, there’s also the nephron, which plays a vital role in kidney function.

The nephron

A nephron is one-millionth of a kidney. Each quarter-pound kidney is made up of one million microscopic units that produce urine. Each unit is known as a nephron. All nephrons are located in the outer portion of the kidney. Each minute of every day, about one quart (4 cups) of blood passes through the healthy kidney. As this blood enters each nephron, it first passes through the glomerulus.

The walls of the glomerulus are semipermeable, like a capillary. Fluid, electrolytes, and waste continually move through the glomerular membrane from the blood to the second part of the nephron, the tubules. Each tubule is surrounded by blood vessels. Here elements needed by the body are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. What remains (the unwanted fluid, electrolytes, and wastes) then exit the tubules and travel down to the bladder. The glomerulus inside each nephron is similar to the hollow fibers inside a dialyzer. With both, large amounts of blood flow through semipermeable membranes, removing wastes, fluid, and electrolytes. These waste products are combined to create urine.

What exactly do the kidneys do?

Remember, your kidneys are vital organs that perform many functions to keep your blood clean and chemically balanced. Understanding how your kidneys work can help you keep them healthy. Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs, each about the size of your fist. They are near the middle of your back, just below your rib cage. Each day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The waste and excess water become urine, which flows to your bladder through tubes called ureters. Your bladder stores urine until you go to the bathroom.

In addition to removing water and waste, your kidneys release three important hormones:

  • Erythropoietin (eh-RITH-ro-POY-eh-tin), or EPO, which stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells
  • Renin (REE-nin), which regulates blood pressure
  • The active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium for bones and normal chemical balance in the body
  • If you have questions about kidney function, speak with your healthcare provider.

Learn more about our sponsor Renadyl here https://bit.ly/3sZDWbb

About the author

Steven Belcher, RN, MSN, MS, is a dedicated kidney advocate who began his journey 20 years ago as a dialysis nurse. This job inspired him to help as many people with kidney disease as he could. Not only did he spend two decades caring for a patient’s physical and emotional needs in a clinical setting, but he also educated the public on the risk factors of kidney disease. Some of his many philanthropic successes include being a keynote speaker at the National Association of Nephrology Technicians/ Technologists (NANT), presenting at community spaces, and launching radio shows.

He now focuses his time entirely on his organization Urban Kidney Alliance, which educates the public about kidney disease. His goal? To lower rates of Chronic Kidney Disease in urban communities in Baltimore, Maryland, across the country, and globally through education and collaboration.

Steve has also written the book “HOW TO SURVIVE OUTPATIENT HEMODIALYSIS: A GUIDE FOR PATIENTS WITH KIDNEY FAILURE.” You can read the book review here.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any diet or exercise program or taking any dietary supplement. The content on our website is for informational and educational purposes only.