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What is the Urinary System?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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The urinary system is a series of connected organs in the human body that process and eliminate urine. The organs considered part of this system are the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. The bladder and urethra are located in the abdomen and are connected to the kidneys by two tubes called ureters. The kidneys are located in the mid back area of the body, one on each side of the spine.

When people drink fluids, the body takes what is necessary for it to function, then the rest is sent to the bloodstream as waste. The work of the urinary system begins with the kidneys. The kidneys are constantly filtering blood and water to remove waste from the body. The waste that is collected in the kidneys is turned into urine. Some of the waste the kidneys filter does not come from ingested liquid, but from the normal breakdown of body tissues.

The process the kidneys use to help the body eliminate waste is complicated and sophisticated. The kidneys are necessary not only to help eliminate waste, but also play an important role in maintaining chemical balance in the blood. The kidneys are able to filter out the good chemicals the body can still use, and send them back out into the bloodstream. In addition, the kidneys produce hormones necessary for human health.

The ureters are organs that consist of two tubes that connect the bladder and kidneys. The bladder is an organ that is very similar to a balloon. It is able to stretch and contract as it fills or empties. When the bladder becomes full, it signals a need to urinate. The bladder empties the urine into the urethra, a tube shaped organ that eventually opens into the penis or the vagina, where the urine then leaves the body.

The health of the human body is greatly dependent on the urinary system. Common problems that sometimes affect the urinary system include kidney and bladder infections, kidney disease, and diabetes. Kidney and bladder infections are generally not considered serious and can often be cured with antibiotics and sulphur-based medications. Kidney disease, however, is considered quite serious, and is often life threatening.

Diabetes can sometimes put a great deal of strain on the urinary system. A high sugar level in the bloodstream means the kidneys have to work much harder to process and filter blood and water. Overworking the kidneys in this way can sometimes lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis. Dialysis is a medical treatment that involves a machine doing the work of the kidneys.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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