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Urinary Disorders Overview

Urology is the field of medicine related to the urinary tract including your:

  • kidneys
  • ureters
  • bladder
  • urethra
  • prostate – for men only.

As you age, you are more likely to develop urinary problems. Other health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also cause urinary problems.


How the Urinary Tract Works

In a 24-hour period, the urinary tract cleans about 200 quarts of fluid and returns most of it to the circulatory system. Leftover fluid leaves the body as urine through the bladder.

The main parts of the urinary tract are the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Men also have a prostate.

  • Kidneys filter waste from the blood. This waste leaves the body as urine.
  • Ureters are narrow tubes that move urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
  • The bladder stores urine until it is emptied from the body.
  • The urethra is the tube where urine leaves the body.


Problems with the Urinary Tract

Urinary tract problems are caused by injury, illness or aging. Common problems include:

Prostate Enlargement – Also called “benign prostatic hyperplasia” or “BPH”, prostate enlargement can lead to partial blockage of the urinary system.

Painful bladder syndrome – Also called “interstitial cystitis” or “PBS/IC”, bladder wall irritation can lead to scarring and decreased bladder volume.

Kidney stones – These are tiny clumps of calcium or uric acid that can get stuck in the urethra. Passing a kidney stone is very painful.

Inflammation of prostate – Also called “prostatitis”, an inflamed prostate causes pain in lower back or genital areas.

High amounts of protein in the urine – Also called “proteinuria”, high amounts of protein in the urine means that the kidneys are not filtering the blood properly.

Kidney failure – Also called “renal failure”, the kidneys are unable to regulate water and remove waste from the blood. This can be caused by acute renal failure, chronic kidney disease, or end-stage renal disease.

Urinary tract infections – Also called “UTIs”, the urinary tract becomes infected with bacteria. This is more common in women than men.

Loss of bladder control – Also called “urinary incontinence”.

Bladder-emptying problems – Also called “urinary retention”.


Symptoms of Urinary Tract Disorders

See a physician for further examination and proper diagnoses if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Burning/difficulty during urination
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Infrequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Darkening of skin
  • Frequent headaches
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Itchiness all over body
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Puffiness around eyes
  • Swelling of hands and feet


More articles about urinary disorders:


Source: Your Urinary System and How It Works, National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, 2012.

For more information:

Go to the Urinary Disorders health topic.