Your Kidneys and You

Kidneys play a vital role in maintaining your health. Learn more about where your kidneys are, what your kidneys do, and why they are important. 

Black background with a translucent body. Kidneys and bladder are in orange with the kidneys on either side of the spine and the bladder in the pelvis.

Where Are My Kidneys?

The kidneys are located below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine, toward the back of the body. They are protected by the lower part of your rib cage. 

Each bean-shaped organ is about 4 to 5 inches long, about the size of an adult fist. Although they are small, your kidneys work hard to keep the rest of your body in balance. 

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What Do My Kidneys Do?

Your kidneys work to keep you healthy. The main job of your kidneys is to filter your blood. All of the blood in your body goes through the kidneys several times a day. The kidneys remove waste from the blood and adjust salts, fluid, and minerals. This waste is turned into urine, which then travels to the bladder and is eliminated. 

Most people have two kidneys. But, your body can function well with only one kidney. 

Why Are My Kidneys Important?

Normal healthy kidneys...

A man in pain, holding his stomach and head.

What Happens When My Kidneys Slow Down or Stop Working?

When your kidneys slow down or stop working, your body can’t remove excess fluids and waste. Over time, toxins build up and make you feel sick. Damaged kidneys affect every part of your body. This condition is called Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).