Kidneys, urinary tract, bladder: the excretory system
The kidneys make up the urine excretion system together with the urinary tract.
The urinary tract includes the following:
- Renal pelvis (Pelvis renalis) – is found in the inner cavity of the kidney
- Ureters – propel urine from the kidney into the bladder
- Bladder (Vesica urinaria) – collects the Urine
- Urethra – is for urine excretion
While the kidneys produce urine by filtration and regulate the water, acid, base and electrolyte balance, the urinary tract is responsible for transporting, transiently storing and excreting the urine produced by the kidneys along with the many metabolic end products.
Due to the close proximity of the reproductive system and urinary system, these are referred to as the urogenital tract. Disorders in this area often influence each other and are, therefore, a case for the urologist, or also the gynaecologist for women.
Urinary tract infection or cystitis?
Inflammation that is triggered by bacteria and which affects parts of the urinary tract is referred to as a urinary tract infection. As such infections usually ascend towards the bladder à ureter à renal pelvis, bladder infections are the most commonly occurring infections of the urinary tract. The infection may, however, ascend further and reach the ureter or even the renal pelvis. Fortunately, this is rare because the kidney would be at risk.
In contrast, many people suffer from bladder infections – experts term this cystitis as the Greek word kystis means bladder.
What causes bladder infections?
Women are approximately 30 times more likely to be affected than men. The primary cause for these is that women have a shorter urethra which enables pathogens to "ascend" more easily as urinary tract infections are mainly trigged by bacteria or yeast from the bowel. Due to the anatomical proximity these can easily move from the anus in the urogenital tract via the urethra and bladder to the ureters. They can even ascend to the renal pelvis.
The pathogens commonly spread due to incorrect hygiene or through sexual intercourse. Sexually active women suffer from bladder infections more frequently. Thus, an acute bladder infection after sexual intercourse is also termed honeymoon cystitis.
Older men are also prone to urinary tract infections and bladder infections. Due to prostate enlargement which occurs commonly (prostatic hypertrophy), the flow of urine is obstructed and the residual urine is an ideal breeding ground for germs.
Symptoms of urinary tract infections
Typical symptoms include:
- Constant need to urinate
- A burning sensation and pain while urinating
- Possible griping, low abdominal pain
- Blood in the urine, cloudy Urine
- For a severe infection also:
- Shivering, fever, strong pain and vomiting.
However, symptoms do not always occur with a urinary tract infection. There are cases where bacteria can be detected in the urinary tract but they do not cause any symptoms. Doctors term this an asymptomatic bacteriuria.
When should you go to the doctor?
A medical evaluation is always necessary if there is blood in the urine, the urine is cloudy, fever occurs or the symptoms are extremely severe or return frequently. It may be necessary to take medications such as antibiotics. It is important that the infection does not ascend further towards the renal pelvis.
Advice for treatment of urinary tract infections and bladder infections
- Drink plenty! - despite the pain, especially water and tea (e.g. diuretic tea): The pathogens can also be washed out with fluid.
- Make sure to keep warm:
- Take Sitz baths and add field horsetail
- Place warm hay flower bags or warm cherry stone pillows on your Abdomen
- Always dress your lumbar region according to the weather – its better to be too warm than too cold
- Make sure that your feet are warm and that your circulation is good:
- Rising temperature foot baths, alternate foot baths, sauna, water treading
- Avoid too much sugar, salt and hot spices.
What can you do to prevent infections?
- For recurring bladder infections: Have your bacterial flora tested by a doctor or alternative practitioner. Again, there is a close relationship between the vaginal and intestinal flora and healthy intestinal and vaginal flora provide good protection against infections.
- Always drink plenty so that no pathogens can establish in the urinary tract.
- To protect the vaginal flora, you should avoid underwear made of synthetic fibres, tampons and constant use of panty liners.
- Symptoms in the urinary tract may also have a psychological component. This is reflected in idioms such as "it gets me down" or in the term "largest teardrop in the body" for the bladder. Continuously recurring urinary tract infections are commonly associated with a psychological toll: Learn and practice relaxation techniques!
- Pay attention to personal hygiene:
- Wash the genitals: from the front to the back!
- Avoid use of fragrances in personal care products in the genital area
- Use breathable underwear made from cotton
- Try to pass urine within 15 minutes of having sex
Naturopathic measures have also proven successful as a supportive treatment. Even if you suffer from continuously recurring urinary tract infections or so-called irritable bladder.
Many homoeopathic active substances are effective against urinary tract infections. Pascorenal® N combines 7 of the key kidney and bladder remedies.
Homoeopathic drug for disorders of the urinary organs, for supportive treatment of kidney function disorders: Pascorenal N Drops