Typically, individuals have two kidneys that work to perform these functions, however, for various reasons an individual may only have one kidney or a "solitary kidney".
In some cases an individual may be born having only one kidney or experience the loss of function of one of their kidneys or have undergone a surgical procedure to have one kidney removed due to cancer, disease, or injury.
Potential Effects that can occur when having only one Kidney Many individuals who have only one kidney live a normal life without experiencing any complications, however, in some cases due to various reasons, complications will arise and some individuals may experience total kidney failure.
When an individual does experience health complications related to having only one kidney, these complications typically begin occurring gradually and the individual may have no noticeable symptoms for quite some time.
However, these issues will eventually require medical treatment in order to prevent any further related health problems or irreversible kidney damage from occurring.
Hypertension One of the most common conditions that can occur when an individual has kidney damage or only one functioning kidney is hypertension also known as high blood pressure.
The reason an individual may experience this condition is due to the fact that the kidneys help to regulate our blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid that is present in our blood stream and the kidneys also produce a hormone known as renin that contributes with the help of other hormones in contracting our blood vessels.
Proteinuria and Reduced GFR Another function of the kidneys is to prevent the loss of protein that is essential to the body; however, when the kidneys have been damaged they will leak this protein into the urine causing an insufficient level of protein in the blood.
This condition is known as proteinuria and tends to occur over a period of time in individuals who have only one kidney.
The glomeruli in the kidneys are responsible for filtering our blood and the "glomerular filtration rate" or "GFR" is the measurement that is calculated using many factors including age, race, gender, and a laboratory test that measures the level of creatinine in the blood and determines the level of kidney functioning.
In individuals who have a solitary kidney, this level is typically reduced.
Solitary Kidney Precautions The above conditions that can develop with only one kidney may not cause any symptoms that are problematic and no complications when they are kept under control.
However, these conditions should be monitored regularly and precautions should be taken to keep blood pressure under control as well as following a healthy diet that limits the intake of protein and protecting the kidney from damage such as can occur when participating in various sports.
If you have a solitary kidney, it is essential that you contact your physician at the first sign of any symptoms that could indicate the presence of any of the above complications.