The Urinary System
Lesson 13, Page 2 of 6

The kidneys filter the blood producing urine, which is stored in the bladder until it is evacuated.

Urinary Tract Disease

Urinary tract disease can be caused by many factors. The most common urinary problems are urinary tract stones, urinary tract infections, and incontinence. Damage to the kidneys can also be caused by the harmful effects of certain diseases, such as diabetes; and by the actions of some drugs, such as ibuprofen.

Severe kidney damage can result in a condition known as uremia [urea-, urine + -emia, blood]. This is a toxic condition produced by the retention of the substances which the kidneys normally excrete from the body. The medical treatment for uremia is hemodialysis, also referred to as dialysis, in which the individual is connected to an "artificial kidney" that filters the blood.

Many urinary problems can cause blood to appear in the urine—a condition which is referred to as hematuria [hema-, blood + -uria, urine]. This can be quite frightening, but one should realize that even a small amount of blood can cause the entire toilet bowl contents to appear to be full of blood.

Urinary Tract Stones

Urinary tract stones result from the crystalization of minerals—most commonly calcium—in the urinary system. These stones usually begin in a kidney. Even though 70% of kidney stones contain calcium, dietary intake of calcium is NOT usually the problem and reducing your intake of calcium is not recommended due to the importance of this mineral to your health. (An exception is the calcium-containing antacids which CAN cause urinary stones. We will discuss this further in the lesson on the digestive system.)

Many kidney stones can be passed out of the body with the urine. This process is usually very painful. The pain associated with kidney stones often comes in waves and stops immediately once the stone is passed. Unless there is an infection there is rarely a need for medical intervention. There are some herbal remedies, however, that can help the stones pass more easily, and preventative measures should certainly be followed to prevent a reoccurrence.

True or False:

Kidney stones almost always require medical intervention.


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