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Excretory System Diseases

Excretory System Diseases

Given below is a list of excretory system diseases with their causes, symptoms and treatments.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Apr 14, 2018
One of the most common diseases and disorders are those that affect the excretory system. The excretory or urinary system is the system that is responsible for removing all the waste materials that are circulating in our body. There are four main urinary system organs in the body, which are:
  • Two kidneys
  • Two ureters
  • One urinary bladder
  • One urethra
However, sometimes when there is malfunctioning of these organs, then it could lead to excretory system disorders.
Diseases Affecting Various Excretory Organs
Kidneys
The kidneys are the main organs that are involved in the process of urine formation. This is because the kidneys are responsible for filtration and removal of any kind of waste that may be present in the bloodstream. Thus, kidneys are more susceptible to various diseases than other excretory organs.
Nephritis
It is the inflammation of one or both the kidneys, wherein major organs of the body are affected by autoimmune disorders. Lupus nephritis can be a serious condition, where a person's own immune system attacks body cells, organs and tissues, causing pain and organ damage.

Causes:
  • Inflammation of the glomerulus, which is the first part of the nephron (the basic unit of the kidney).
Symptoms:
  • Smelly urine
  • Blood in urine
  • Lower abdominal pain
Treatment:

It is treated with antibiotics and sometimes with steroids, especially in those cases that are caused by lupus.
Nephrosis
Also known as the nephrotic syndrome, it is a group of symptoms including high cholesterol levels, low blood protein levels, protein in the urine and high triglyceride levels.

Causes:
  • Malfunctioning of the kidneys
  • Membranous nephropathy
  • Genetic disorders
  • Immune disorders
  • Use of certain drugs
  • Infections such as strep throat, mononucleosis or hepatitis
Symptoms:
  • Formation of foamy urine
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight gain from fluid retention
Treatment:

Since nephrosis is caused due to certain disorder, it is necessary to treat the disorder that is causing it. Along with this, it is essential to focus on the diet of the patient.
Kidney stones
Kidney stones are small calcium deposits that are seen in the nephrons. These stones could also be large in size, may get infected, and in some cases, may even descend to the urinary tract.

Causes:
  • When the levels of water, salts, minerals and other substances present in urine are altered
  • Hereditary
Symptoms:
  • Waves of sharp pain in the lower abdomen, back and the side
  • Blood in urine
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
Treatment:

Smaller stones, usually, pass out of the body through urination and don't need any kind of surgery. In such a situation the doctor asks the patient to drink plenty of fluids and collect the urine for at least 24 hours. This should be done to save the passed stone for examination. He also gives certain medicines to treat the pain.
Ureters
Ureters are two long tubes or paired ducts with narrow lumina that pass the urine from kidneys to the urinary bladder. A ureter descends from the renal pelvis, along the posterior abdominal wall and enters the urinary bladder. A ureter is made of three layers - The outer layer, which is a fibrous coat supporting the fibrous connective tissue, the middle layer, which is a muscular coat that moves the urine forward and the inner layer, which is the mucosa, a transitional epithelium with the lining of renal pelvis and urinary bladder.
Vesicoureteral Reflux
Vesicoureteral reflux is a disorder wherein, there is a backflow of urine from the bladder into the ureters. It is common in children and eventually outgrows as they grow older.

Causes:
  • The cause of primary vesicoureteral reflux is the defect in the functional valve between the bladder and the ureters. This defect is present in the person before birth.
  • Secondary vesicoureteral reflux is the result of malfunctioning or blockage in the urinary system.
Symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequency in small amounts of urination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constant urge to urinate
Treatment:

There are two treatment options - medications and surgery. Vesicoureteral reflux is a type of urinary tract infection and antibiotics prevent this infection from moving to the kidneys. Medications are also given in order to prevent the infection. Surgical treatment works for those who do not respond well to medications. The defect in the functioning valve between the bladder and the ureters is repaired with a surgery.
Urinary Bladder
It is a muscular sac in the urinary tract that stores urine, which is produced by the kidneys. It is surrounded by a lining of several layers of muscle tissue that expand to accommodate urine entering into the bladder through the ureters. The bladder stores urine in order to make urination infrequent and voluntary. When the bladder is completely full and unable to accommodate more urine, there is an urgent need to urinate.
Cystitis
Cystitis is a medical term for the inflammation of the bladder. It is the most common urinary tract infection because bladder is the place where the urine is stored in the body until the bladder is full, only after which does the person feel the need to urinate. Thus, the bladder could end up being a breeding ground for bacteria. This is one of the causes of bladder infections.

Causes:
  • Bacterial infection
  • Reaction to particular medications
  • Long term use of catheter
  • Radiation therapy
  • An underlying illness
Symptoms:
  • Difficulty or pain while urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Sharp pain and soreness in the lower abdomen
  • Foul-smelling urine
Treatment:
  • Antibiotics for bacterial cystitis
  • For other types of cystitis, the cause determines the treatment.
Bladder Cancer
When various cells present in the bladder start growing abnormally, bladder cancer develops. These abnormally growing cells develop mutations and go out of control and do not die. They finally form a tumor.

Causes:

Unfortunately the exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown to the experts. However, it has been linked to certain things like:
  • Parasitic infection
  • Smoking
  • Chemical exposure
  • Radiation
Symptoms:
  • Pelvic pain
  • Painful urination
  • Back pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
Treatment:
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Intravesical therapy
Urethra
It is the final passageway that passes the urine out of the body. The outer-side opening of urethra is called the external urethral orifice. The urethra in females is 1.5 inches (3 to 4 cm) long and is between the vagina and the clitoris. However, in men, it is 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long and passes through the prostate gland, the urogenital diaphragm and the penis.
Urethritis
It is the inflammation of the urethra, which is a tube carrying urine from the bladder to outside the body. The urethra is susceptible to getting afflicted by infections because it is exposed at one end.

Causes:
  • Gonorrhea (Sexually Transmitted Disease)
  • Chlamydia (Sexually Transmitted Disease)
Symptoms:
  • Difficulty in starting urination
  • Sharp pain while urinating
  • Itching, discomfort and pain even when not urinating
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Discharge from urethral opening
  • Pain during sex
  • In men, blood in semen or in urine
Treatment:

A wide variety of antibiotics can be used to treat urethritis. If it is difficult to find the exact organism causing the disease, the doctor recommends a combination of various antibiotics that will be effective in treating the infection.
Urethral Stricture
It is scarring in or around the urethra that narrows or blocks the passageway of urine that flows from the bladder. This disease is mostly common in men than in women.

Causes:
  • Injury associated with pelvic fracture
  • Infection
Symptoms:
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Urine retention
  • Decrease in the amount of urine passage
  • Slow urine flow
  • Incomplete process of emptying the bladder
Treatment:

Dilation, a process of cutting the stricture with a laser or a knife and removing it with a surgery is a common treatment option. After the stricture is removed, the area is reconstructed with grafts. In not-so-severe cases, it is better to allow the stricture to heal on its own; it takes a few days.
There are also certain other conditions, which may occur in relation to the excretory system, one of them being urinary incontinence. It occurs when the functioning of the sphincter is affected. However, in most cases, urinary tract infections can be cured with the help of antibiotics, but it is important that one gets timely treatment for his or her condition, so as to prevent any permanent damage to the excretory system.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.