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Kidney health quick-start guide

December 1, 2022

Your kidneys deserve as much care and protection as your heart or brain. Here’s why, and what you can do.

illustration of a kidney showing how blood is routed through it

We all want to protect our heart and our brain. But how often do you think about protecting your kidneys? The health of those two bean-shaped organs is easy to take for granted, especially since there aren’t noticeable signs of trouble until chronic kidney disease — an irreversible loss of kidney function — has already developed. And with 37 million people in the United States struggling with the condition, and millions more at risk for developing it, it’s important to pay attention to your kidneys now, when you can protect them.

The role of the kidneys

The kidneys — located on either side of the spine, just below your rib cage — perform many important functions. They route blood through a complex filtering system that removes toxins; hold on to fluid, salt, or other minerals the body needs; and send the waste (urine) to the bladder to be flushed out of the body.

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About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

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No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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