Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

The kidneys sit in the abdomen

The kidneys sit in the abdomen
beginning of content

Kidneys

The kidneys are organs that sit in your abdomen, low down at the back. Their main function is to filter or 'clean' your blood of waste products. Kidneys are so important that we have two of them - a spare if one stops working.

Kidneys are part of the urinary system, which also includes:

  • ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder)
  • bladder (for storing urine)
  • urethra (tube connecting your bladder to the surface of the body, for urination).

Almost everyone is born with two kidneys. They are shaped like a bean and are about the size of your fist and each kidney weighs about 150 grams.

They sit on each side of your backbone, between your ribcage - which partially protects your kidneys - and the lower back. In most people, the right kidney is a little lower than the left.

Blood travels to the kidneys through the renal arteries, and leaves through the renal veins.

What do kidneys do?

Kidneys are very important to your overall health.

Nutrients from what you eat and drink enter the blood, and nourish the cells in your body. Waste products from this process need to be removed. Kidneys filter these waste products from the blood.

The waste combines with excess water and leaves your bladder through the urethra as urine.

Your kidneys also help:

  • control blood pressure
  • make red blood cells
  • keep bones strong and healthy
  • control the levels of chemicals and salts (electrolytes) in your blood.

Kidney diseases

Most kidney damage occurs gradually, over several years.

If detected early, lifestyle or dietary changes and medications may prevent further damage.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) can cause anaemia or high blood pressure.

Kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, possibly requiring dialysis or a transplant.

Healthy kidneys

To keep your kidneys healthy:

People with diabetes should keep blood glucose within recommended levels.

Last reviewed: August 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 1581 results

Kidney disease

Each year, more than 500,000 Australians consult their doctors about kidney disease and urinary tract infections. One in three Australian adults is at increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and one in ten has some sign of chronic kidney disease.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) | myVMC

Polycystic kidney disease is an inherited disorder in which cysts grow on and enlarge the kidneys causing hypertension and kidney failure.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Kidney disease tests and procedures

People with kidney disease often undergo a lot   of medical tests and procedures. They are needed   to confirm a diagnosis, plan treatment or check   progress. Some of the most commonly used tests   for people with kidney disease are outlined in this   fact sheet.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Kidney Disease - Chronic Renal Failure | myVMC

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD, also known as Chronic Renal Failure) is a disease affecting the kidney

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Chronic kidney disease

Chronic kidney disease is a debilitating chronic disease in its own right, but can also contribute to, or be impacted by, other prominent chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.

Read more on Department of Health website

Diabetic Kidney Disease

Diabetes is a major cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Diabetes is caused by problems with the production and/or action of insulin.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Maintaining kidney function information video | myVMC

Keeping kidneys health prevents kidney failure (renal failure), kidney pain and kidney disease, and helps maintain kidney function.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Kidney Health Check | Kidney Health Australia

Kidney Health CheckIf you have one or more risk factors for chronic kidney disease it is recommended that you see your doctor for a Kidney Health Check every two years. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure it is recommended that you have a Kid

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Kidney Disease Tests & Procedures

People with kidney disease often undergo a lot   of medical tests and procedures. They are needed   to confirm a diagnosis, plan treatment or check   progress.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Types of kidney disease | Kidney Health Australia

Kidney disease is broadly classified into acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. Acute kidney injury Acute kidney injury is sudden damage to the kidneys. In many cases it will be short term but in some people it may lead to long-term chronic

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback