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Most people are born with two kidneys, but a few are born with just one. They may not even know they have only one kidney, until they undergo a medical test and find out that one is missing (renal agenesis). A few are also born with two kidneys, but only one of them is functional, and the other is not (a condition called kidney dysplasia). Still, others may have one kidney surgically removed in order to treat a disease like cancer or an injury that damaged the organ.Organ donors may also give up one kidney to help someone who needs a kidney transplant. In the same manner, a person who has chronic renal failure and receives a kidney transplant has only one kidney to support life. So what happens to a person with just one kidney?

Most people who have just one healthy kidney live normal, healthy lives.

In other words, you need just one kidney to live a normal, healthy life.

One kidney functions just like two, although it may grow bigger into a size that approximates the size of two kidneys combined. Some people with a single kidney develop high blood pressure later in life and experience some loss in kidney function. However, this happens over a very long time and the effect is usually very mild, so their life span remains normal.

However, one disadvantage of having only one kidney is that you do not have another one to take over its function in case something serious happens to it. Therefore, for people who have only one kidney, it is important to do everything it takes to stay healthy and protect their valuable organ.

Taking Care Of A Single Kidney

Taking care of a single kidney is very similar to taking care of two kidneys, which all people must do. There is no special diet or medical intervention to accomplish this, but it involves living a healthy lifestyle that will also result in good general health. This includes eating a healthy, balanced diet, making sure you get proper hydration, avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol or drug use, and staying active.

People who have only one kidney are also advised to get tested at least once a year to monitor their kidney function as part of preventive care. This involves getting a urine test, monitoring for changes in blood pressure, blood sugar and creatinine levels. Any abnormalities in these tests must be evaluated for further management.

To prevent chronic kidney disease, which may compromise your kidney function it is important to maintain a healthy weight and control blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It is also important to avoid contact sports like boxing, hockey, football, soccer, wrestling, or martial arts, which can result in serious organ injury. Other factors that may compromise kidney health and must be avoided include:

  • Medications that may harm the kidneys
  • Dehydration due to illness, hot weather or exercise
  • Laboratory examinations that involve the use of contrast material or dyes

It is best to consult your doctor about using any medications or procedures if you have only one kidney, and to have regular monitoring of kidney function.

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