Solitary Kidney

Your kidneys perform many functions to keep you alive. They

Most people have two kidneys, one on each side of the spinal column in the back just below the rib cage. Each kidney is about the size of a fist and contains about 1 million nephrons. The nephrons are microscopic filtering "baskets" that transfer wastes from the blood to the collecting tubules of the urinary system.

A person may have only one kidney for one of three main reasons.

Most people can live a normal, healthy life with one kidney. Taking precautions is wise to protect the kidney function you do have.


What are the possible effects of solitary kidney?

If having a single kidney does affect your health, the changes are likely to be so small and happen so slowly that you won't notice them. Over long periods of time, however, these gradual changes may require specific measures or treatments. Changes that may result from a single kidney include the following:

You can have high blood pressure, proteinuria, and reduced GFR and still feel fine. As long as these conditions are under control, they will probably not affect your health or longevity. Schedule regular checkups with your doctor to monitor these conditions.

How can you protect your kidneys?

Monitoring

Your doctor should monitor your kidney function by checking your blood pressure and testing your urine and blood once a year.

Controlling Blood Pressure

If your blood pressure is above normal, you should work with your doctor to keep it below 130/80. Great care should be taken in selecting blood pressure medicines for people with a solitary kidney. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) are two classes of blood pressure medicine that protect kidney function and reduce proteinuria. But these medicines may be harmful to someone with renal artery stenosis (RAS), which is the narrowing of the arteries that enter the kidneys. Diuretics can help control blood pressure by removing excess fluid in the body. Controlling your blood pressure may require a combination of two or more medicines, plus changes in diet and activity level.

Eating Sensibly

Having a single kidney does not mean that you have to follow a special diet. You simply need to make healthy choices, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and low-fat dairy foods. Limit your daily salt (sodium) intake to 2,000 milligrams or less if you already have high blood pressure. Reading nutrition labels on packaged foods to learn how much sodium is in one serving and keeping a sodium diary can help. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake as well.

Avoid high-protein diets. Protein breaks down into the waste materials that the kidneys must remove, so excessive protein puts an extra burden on the kidneys. Eating moderate amounts of protein is still important for proper nutrition. A dietitian can help you find the right amount of protein in your diet.

Avoiding Injury

Some doctors may advise patients with a solitary kidney to avoid contact sports like boxing, football, and hockey. One study indicated that motor vehicle collisions and bike riding accidents were more likely than sports injuries to seriously damage the kidneys. In recent years, athletes with a single working kidney have participated in sports competition at the highest levels. Having a solitary kidney should not automatically disqualify you from sports participation. Children should be encouraged to engage in some form of physical activity, even if contact sports are ruled out. Protective gear such as padded vests worn under a uniform can make limited contact sports like basketball or soccer safe. Doctors, parents, and patients should consider the risks of any activity and decide whether the benefits outweigh those risks.