A Brief Primer on the Urinary System
Also referred to as the excretory system or genitourinary system, our urinary system is mainly useful to produce, retain and eliminate urine. The components of the system include kidneys, bladder, ureters, urethra, sphincter muscles and of course the vagina when describing the female. Urinary tract problems loosely defined,
means that there can be a congenital urinary problem or acquired dysfunction of the urinary system and this may occur anywhere in these organs. This is the place to look when people are having them. The most common problem in the urinary tract, however, usually involves incontinence, which is most common among women.
Urinary Tract Problems in a Nutshell
Kidney problems are usually the most serious urinary tract problems and include acute or chronic renal failure. These days this is most often caused by toxicity from too many prescription drugs or by obstructions like renal stones or a blockage down in the prostatic bladder outlet. Renal failure can ironically be fixed by medication but also has been successfully treated by changes in the diet and lifestyle. Many sufferers need dialysis in the worst cases. Renal and non-renal issues with the urinary tract are divided often into separate categories by the terms uropathy which are non-renal or nephropathy which always refer to issues of the kidneys.
Urinary tract infections are the most common of uropathic urinary tract issues for women. It's no wonder since women have much shorter urethras than men, being this is usually the entryway for bacteria to climb up and cause urinary tract infections. Furthermore, they don't have prostatic fluids which are secreted from a male prostate which have anti-bacterial properties. The male urethra, because of the penis, is separated away from the anus which is a common culprit for harboring bacteria which gives men another advantage to avoiding a urinary tract problem like UTI. This is why many doctors tell women to wipe only from front to back once with every tissue they use when going to the bathroom in order to avoid bacteria from the anus to spread to the vagina and then the urethra where the bacteria causes the most havoc.
Another common uropathy is incontinence or involuntary loss of urine. In men this is often caused by a growing prostate. For both men and women it can be caused by drinking too much alcohol or coffee or even infection or anomalies in the structure within the urinary tract. Young children can have a urinary incontinence that can happen in their sleep and is commonly referred to as bedwetting or enuresis. These are just a few of the common issues of the urinary tract, however, and a patient should always press for a thorough examination of their urinary tract if one ever has a suspicion there could be a problem with theirs.
Most examinations for urinary problems include anything that could be blocking the urinary tract like stool impactation, kidney stones or even tumors. Poor reflexes or sensations may also indicate nerve diseases which can cause issues with urinary tract especially if it involves control. Other tests include bladder control tests, stress tests, urinalysis, blood tests, ultrasound, cytoscopy or urondynamics tests which measure the pressure in the bladder and the flow of urine.