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By Lorrie Klosterman

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The soup would be too strong, and it would not go down very easily. K E E P ING YO U P E RFE C TLY S ALT Y Kidneys control the amounts of electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes are chemicals that are essential for a variety of life-supporting activities. Electrolytes include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphates, and many others. Sodium is the most plentiful of these, and it is sometimes referred to as salt. ) Salt is essential for many body processes, but too much or too little can cause problems.

In these cases, doctors will remove the damaged one. It is quite possible to live a normal life with one healthy kidney. Kidney failure can be temporary, such as during a serious kidney infection. The kidney may start working fine again once the infection goes away. But infections can sometimes be so damaging that kidney cells are killed and replaced by scar tissue. Scar tissue cannot do what kidney cells can. So the kidney may not work as well as it once did. Another cause of kidney failure is a disease that harms the glomeruli— the clusters of blood vessels that leak the fluids that make up urine.

With all the acids and bases that come into the body as foods, and the ones that are made through the body’s everyday activities, there must be a way to make sure the body’s fluids stay neutral. The excretory system does a big part of that work. Kidneys excrete extra acid in urine. ) Just how they do this is an impressively complex process. The final outcome, though, is that fluids are not out of balance for long, thanks to the acid-base balancing skills of kidneys. Kidneys and the other parts of the excretory system play a vital role in maintaining the body’s homeostasis.

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