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Atrophic Kidney: What are the Effects of Small Kidneys?

Atrophic Kidney: What are the Effects of Small Kidneys?

Kidneys are important organs that help to flush out waste from the body. It also does the important function of filtering blood before sending it to the heart. Other important functions of the bean-shaped organs include purifying minerals from the blood, regulating fluid balance, and flushing out toxic substances from the body.

The organs are located towards the back in the upper abdominal area. The usual size of the kidney is about 10 to 12 cm. When the size of one or both the kidneys is smaller than usual, it is because of a condition called atrophic kidney. The condition is also called renal atrophy.

Atrophic kidney occurs because of two reasons.

The first reason is that the kidney has not grown after birth. Hence, the size of the kidney is small. This condition does not require any medications or treatments.

The second reason is the irregular supply of blood to the kidney causing excess loss of nephrons.

Other reasons that cause atrophic kidneys to occur are chronic infections and kidney stones that cause a blockage. Having an abnormal size of kidney can make you more prone to kidney diseases or even kidney damage.

Signs you have atrophic kidney

Kidneys help to perform the important function of filtering your blood and flushing out toxic substances from the body. It also does the important function of regulating blood pressure.

It is difficult to know if you have kidney issues until the organ loses over 30 percent of the functionality. If the kidneys are not able to function properly, you may experience a number of symptoms.

Some of the symptoms you may experience if you have kidney issues include difficulty in peeing, pain while peeing, excess urination, feeling weak, presence of blood in the urine. There are also chances of you not experiencing any symptoms.

If you have any symptoms of kidney diseases, your doctor may ask you to undergo a few tests. Some of the tests to detect a small kidney include MRI, CT scan, and blood tests.

The earlier the diagnosis, the better the treatment outcomes could be.

Is having an atrophic kidney harmful?

The main function of kidneys is to flush out waste and excess fluid from your body. This helps to prevent the accumulation of waste in your body and maintain a healthy body.

Kidneys produce erythropoietin, a hormone that helps in the production of red blood cells (RBCs). RBCs are helpful to deliver oxygen from the lungs to other parts of your body. Kidneys are also helpful in maintaining bone health. Another important function of kidneys is to maintain pH balance by flushing out excess acid.

If you have an atrophic kidney, you can easily live a normal and healthy life. There are usually no complications.

In fact, it is also said that a human can easily survive with one kidney. The only issue of having an atrophic kidney is that it can make you more prone to developing a number of other health conditions including high blood pressure and kidney ailments.

Developing any complications depends on the severity of the condition. If both your kidneys are abnormal in size, you may be more prone to having kidney damage. It is advised to undergo tests to check if your kidneys are properly functioning and if you have developed any health conditions.Your doctor may only recommend going for kidney removal surgery only if you have a severe infection or if your abnormal kidney size is causing high blood pressure more often. Doctors would suggest the surgery only if absolutely required.

Atrophic kidney treatment

Atrophic kidney treatment depends on the cause and severity of the condition. If you have kidney issues because of an existing health condition, your doctor may prescribe you medications to control the condition.

If you have the condition, your doctor may first check how much your kidney is functioning. If your kidney is functioning properly, treatment or medications is only recommended to improve the functionality.

If you have an atrophic kidney and if your kidneys are functioning properly, your doctor may not recommend you any treatment except following a healthy lifestyle and maintaining kidney health.

If your tests indicate that your kidneys are functioning less than 20 percent, it means you are having a severe issue like kidney failure. Your doctor may recommend treatments like dialysis that will help to improve your kidney functioning. Your doctor may even recommend a kidney transplant.

You may prevent the condition from causing more harm by living a healthy life. Follow a healthy lifestyle that includes consuming healthy food, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoid smoking and consuming alcohol.

If you have a medical or family history of kidney diseases, it is advised you have regular follow-ups with your doctor. Your doctor may even provide you with a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid.

Kidney health and diet

It is important to consume a diet that will help you to maintain kidney health. Avoid consumption of salt as much as possible. Cutting down on salt will help you keep your blood pressure under control.

You may cut down on salt by avoiding the consumption of processed and canned foods and by replacing salt with herbs and spices in your home-cooked foods. Replace your unhealthy snacks with fresh fruits.

Increase your protein intake. Even though protein can put pressure on your kidneys, it is important for the proper functioning of the organ. Foods that you may include in your meal include eggs, chicken, meat, beans, grains, fruits, vegetables, etc.

Other lifestyle changes that might be helpful include exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, etc.

You may ask your nutritionist for a customized diet plan that will help you to maintain kidney health and prevent further damage.

Learn more about maintaining your urological health, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


What Is Kidney Atrophy?/https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/what-kidney-atrophy/Accessed June 30. 2021

Kidney problems/https://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/kidney-problems//Accessed June 30. 2021

SMALL OR SINGLE KIDNEY/https://www.kidney.org.uk/small-or-single-kidney/Accessed June 30. 2021

The impact of small kidneys

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25794549/ Accessed June 30. 2021

Kidney size – an overview

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/kidney-size Accessed June 30. 2021

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 30, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel