To have a single kidney is a matter of worry. But with a few precautions and healthy lifestyle the person lives a normal life with a single kidney.
Almost all persons are born with two kidneys. But because of extra capacity and a large reserve, even a single (or solitary) kidney is capable of performing normal functions of both kidneys. So a person with a single kidney does not have any problem in routine or sexual activity or strenuous work.
Only one kidney is enough for a normal and active life for a lifetime. In most of the cases of patients born with just one kidney, the diagnosis of single kidney is made accidentally while performing radiological tests for entirely different reasons.
In a few people with a single kidney over long periods (years), possible ill effects include high blood pressure and loss of protein in the urine. Reduction in kidney function is very rare.
Three common circumstances in which a person has a single kidney are:
Many people are born with a single kidney. The likelihood of having only one kidney from birth is about one out of 750 people. A single kidney is more common in males, and it is usually the left kidney which is missing.
People with a single kidney function normally, but can be compared with a two wheeler without a spare wheel.
In the absence of a second kidney, if sudden and severe damage occurs to the solitary functioning kidney, acute kidney failure is bound to occur and all kidney functions will worsen rapidly.
Acute kidney failure can cause many problems and complications and needs prompt attention. Within a short period the severity of problems increases and can cause life threatening complications. Such patients need urgent dialysis. To avoid kidney damage and its consequences, precautions should be taken by all people with a single kidney.
Potential circumstances of sudden and severe damage to a solitary kidney are:
People with a single kidney need no treatment. But taking precautions is wise to protect the solitary kidney. Important precautions are:
Monitor kidney function by checking blood pressure and testing urine and blood once a year. Regular medical checkups will help detect any early signs of kidney problems or developing kidney failure. Early detection of kidney problems provides opportunity for timely treatment and care.
Patients with a single kidney should immediately consult a doctor if there is:
Source: Kidney Education Foundation