The urinary system is a part of the body that produces and stores urine. Urine is fluid waste created in the kidneys. The kidneys are in charge of filtering waste & water from the body, providing a way to keep the body from different harms and damages. The urine is stored in the bladder, which we all know – needs to be emptied every now and then.
As the urinary system is made from several organs and handles our bodies waste and toxins, it is prone to infections and other problems. These can be easy to treat (infections) or harder and require surgery (blockage and injuries).
The parts of the urinary system
The Kidneys – the main organ of the urinary system. The kidneys are in charge of filtering blood from waste and excess water, which are turned to urine. The urine is then stored in the bladder.
The bladder – a balloon like organ which stores the urine. The bladder is held in place by ligaments. The urine is stored in the bladder until the brain signals that the bladder is ready to be emptied (usually when it is almost full). The bladder’s capacity in a healthy person is about half a liter of urine, and urine is usually stored for 3-5 hours at a time (during waking hours).
The bladder’s exit to the urethra is held shut by circular muscles closing it firmly.
The Urethra – The tube that leads the urine out of the body. It goes from the bladder to the outer opening, depending on the male/female urinary system.
Each organ of the urinary system may suffer from diseases or other medical conditions.
Common Urinary Disorders and Diseases
Infections – the most common of all in the urinary system is Urinary Tract Infections (UTI in short). Women are more susceptible to UTIs than men. UTIs are caused by bacteria, which finds its way in to the urinary system. UTIs can happen in any organ of the urinary system –
The bladder, the kidneys or the urethra.
In most cases, UTIs will be treated by antibiotics. Research has shown that about 94% of urinary tract infections can be treated by oral antibiotics.
BPH – Benign Prostate Hyperplasia – The prostate gland (a part of the male reproduction system) is located just beneath the bladder. In some cases, there is a growth of non-cancerous cells in the prostate, causing it to be bigger than usual. This change is size creates pressure on the urethra, which may result in full blockage and problems in giving urine. BPH is most common in elderly and senior people at age over 60.
Bladder control conditions – there are two conditions found in this category. The first one is called urinary incontinence which is loss of control over the bladder, and the second is urinary retention which is a difficulty to empty the bladder’s capacity.
Both conditions are treated by behavioral treatments, which may be accompanied by medicinal treatment. In some cases, surgery may be required.
Kidney conditions – this category includes kidney stones, kidney failure and proteinuria. All three conditions are caused by a dysfunction of the kidneys.
Kidney stones are a condition where a urine waste forms in a solid “stone” like shape. Small stones may travel out of the body through the urethra without one noticing, but larger stones may cause a great deal of pain and blockage of the urinary system. Treatment varies and depends on the exact location of the stones and type of kidney stone.
Proteinuria is a condition that suggests kidney dysfunction. This condition is diagnosed when protein is found in the urine, due to a chronic kidney disease or infection.
Kidney failure is the hardest condition of the three. It may occur suddenly, or it may be a long term failure leading to complete loss of kidney function. Treatment is given depending on the cause of the kidney failure, in hope that the kidney failure is reversible. Treatments include a special diet, and in progressive kidney failure dialysis or kidney transplant is needed.
Nocturia – a rather new condition which describes the need to urinate during sleeping hours. Nocturia causes a state close to insomnia, causing decreased sleep quality and a disturbance to one’s well-being. There are several treatments for Nocturia, and more are researched today.
The urinary system is in charge of your body’s waste disposal through the urine. It is in charge of filtering blood from waste and ejecting it along with extra fluid from your body. If you have any feeling that something is wrong with your urinary system, it is important ot consult a medical professional as early as possible. Early detection of urinary conditions may literally save your kidneys and your health.