Urinary System

The bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys all together represent the urinary system. This system works as a filter that helps to remove waste and excess water from the blood. Therefore, this waste transforms into urine. One of the most common urinary problems are bladder infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

What is the Urinary System?

The urinary system is considered the body’s filtration system which helps to get rid of toxins and wastes from your body. However, to be able to urinate, the body must pass the toxins and waste through different organs, ducts, and tubes. In case somewhere is a problem, it may become difficult to urinate. Check below the main organs of the urinary system:

  • Two kidneys (blood-filtering organs)
  • Two ureters (these are ducts that connect your bladder with kidneys)
  • A bladder (this organ holds your urine)
  • A urethra (the last tube that helps urine to leave your body)

Function

Your body’s filtering system works hard daily and helps to eliminate toxins, excess water, salt, waste, and others. The main tasks that your urinary system performs are:

  • Storing and carrying the urine out from the body
  • Help to separate nutrients from toxins
  • Filtering blood

The vital part of your filtering system are kidneys. Check below in detail how the urinary system works:

  • Through many little arteries, the blood enters the kidneys.
  • While kidneys filter the blood, they separate toxins from nutrients.
  • Therefore, vitamins, proteins, nutrients, and minerals return to your bloodstream.
  • After that, waste and urine move from your kidneys through the ureters to the bladder.
  • Urine stays in the bladder until you use the toilet and through the urethra leaving your body.

Anatomy

All organs of the body’s filtering system are located in the abdomen and pelvic region. Check below what each organ does:

  • Kidneys – They work by filtering blood and making urine that is eliminated from the body. The kidneys are located in the back of the abdomen below the rib cage and the size of each kidney is about your fist size. These organs filter about 120 to 150 quarts (roughly 114 to 142 liters) of blood daily and produce 1 to 2 quarts (1 to 2 liters) of urine each day.
  • Ureters – These are two thin tubes about 9 inches long that connect your kidneys to your bladder.
  • Bladder – It is a muscle such as a triangular balloon, which holds the urine until you are not ready to empty it. The most your bladder can hold up is up to 500 milliliters of urine at the same time. When you are urinating you are emptying your bladder.
  • Urethra – The urine leaves the body through these small thin tubes. Moreover, there are two sphincter muscles that close the urethra, and when they weaken, it may become difficult to hold your pee in.

Diseases

There are several diseases that could negatively affect your kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Some of them can occur at birth while others develop as you get older. Check below some common urinary disorders:

  • InfectionsSexually transmitted infections (STIs) and urinary tract infections can provoke problems with your kidneys, bladder, and urethra. These infections usually happen when the bacteria enter your urethra. Thus, doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat these infections.
  • Kidney Stones – When small masses clump together, they form kidney stones. These stones can provoke severe pain or even block the flow of urine.
  • Urination Problems – Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control provokes leakage when you do not want it. These can be worse when you jump, sneeze, cough, or laugh. If you experience a sudden uncontrollable urge to pee frequently is called an overactive bladder. In addition, urinary retention is a condition in which your bladder does not empty completely every time you urinate.
  • Urinary Tract Obstructions – The urine flow can also be negatively affected by certain growths and tumors. For example, an enlarged prostate gland can block your ureter and urinating becomes harder. Other causes of urinary tract obstructions are pregnancy, and gastrointestinal problems (such as Crohn’s disease).
  • Kidney Disease – These conditions are the common serious diseases that usually impact the body’s filtration system. Hypertension and diabetes are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Kidney diseases can cause kidney failure. That’s why it is important to manage your blood sugar and blood pressure regularly.
  • Interstitial Cystitis – This condition also is called painful bladder syndrome and it provokes inflammation in your bladder. Fortunately, medical therapy and medicines can help to lessen painful bladder syndrome symptoms.
  • Structural Issues – In some circumstances, babies are born with certain diseases that negatively affect the development of the urinary tract. For example ectopic ureter.

Symptoms

The symptoms usually depend on the condition you experience. Check below some examples:

  • Pain in the abdominal region
  • Urinate more or less often
  • Changes in your urine (such as urine that is brown, cloudy, or contains blood)
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In case you notice any of the symptoms listed above or any others, immediately contact your physician.

Tests

If you suspect that you have a urinary system problem, your physician may order you to do some tests. For example:

  • Imaging tests (such as ultrasound, X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and CT scan.
  • Urine Culture
  • Urethral swab (also called urethral discharge test)
  • Blood tests
  • Kidney functioning test
  • Urinalysis

The most common body filtering system problem is urinary tract infections (UTIs). This is because more than 60% of women and people assigned to female at birth (AFAB) experience at least one UTI during their lifetime.

Another common condition is considered kidney stones which affects roughly one in every 10 people. Furthermore, approximately 37 million people live with chronic kidney disease in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I keep my urinary system healthy?

The following tips can help to maintain your body’s filtering system healthy. Examples include:

  • Regular pelvic floor exercises (such as Kegel exercises)
  • Maintain your genital area clean
  • Practice safe sex (it means that you should use condoms that will help to prevent infections)
  • Empty your bladder completely
  • Adopt a well-balanced and nutritious diet
  • Drink plenty of water

For more details talk with your doctor.

When should I contact my healthcare professional?

There are some symptoms that mean you should see a doctor. For example:

  • Burning sensations, pain, or urinating problems
  • Holding urine problems
  • Hematuria (blood in the urine)
  • Pain in the pelvic region, lower back, or genital area

If you experience any of the symptoms below, seek medical help right away.

Is coffee bad for the bladder?

Generally, it is not bad for the bladder but if it is consumed in excessive amounts, it may irritate the bladder. Therefore, this effect can cause involuntary bladder contraction, which contributes to urge incontinence. Ask your physician if you have any questions.

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