What Is Urology?
Urology refers to function and disorders of the urinary system. The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for removing urine, which is composed of extra wastes and fluid. The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, the ureters, and the bladder. As long as these three are working together in the right order, the urinary tract can function properly.
The kidneys are two fist-sized organs located just below the ribcage. They filter about 135 quarts of blood every day and produce about 1.5 quarts of urine. A person does not control what the kidneys do; they work independently and around the clock.
The ureters are two thin tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
The bladder is a balloon shaped organ that expands as it fills with urine. It can hold up to 2 cups of urine at a time. As the bladder fills it sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to urinate, and the person controls when the bladder empties.
What Is A Urologic Disease?
A urologic disease is one that concerns the body’s urinary system. There are many conditions that affect this area of the body and they can happen to people of all ages and genders. Some of the most common conditions include:
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). This condition causes an enlarged prostate gland. It is fairly common in older men. Symptoms may include frequent urination, not feeling like the bladder is empty after urination and a weak stream of urine. Treatments include alpha-blockers or, in severe cases, surgery.
- Urinary Incontinence. This is a loss of bladder control, leading to constant “leaking” and a frequent need to use the restroom. It is a fairly common condition, with an estimated 15 million sufferers in the United States alone. Although it is not a dangerous condition, it can be embarrassing and inconvenient. There is a long list of causes for Urinary incontinence including diabetes, pregnancy/childbirth, overactive bladder, BPH, urinary tract infections, spinal cord injury and digestive issues.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). A UTI is caused by a bacteria or virus in the urinary tract that causes infection. UTIs can be developed in any part of the tract including your urethra, bladder, ureters, or kidneys. Women are more prone to them than men, but men can also get them. The most common treatment is an antibiotic, or simply drinking lots of liquid.
- Kidney stones. Kidney stones are hard pebble-like substances that vary in size from a grain of sand to a pea. These stones form in one or both kidneys when your urine contains high levels of a certain mineral. You can pass small kidney stones through your urinary tract, however, the larger ones can get stuck and require shock wave lithotripsy or cystoscopy and ureteroscopy to break the stone into smaller pieces or remove it.
- Prostate cancer. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate gland begin to grow uncontrollably. Some common symptoms are frequent urges to urinate, painful urination, and blood in the urine. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, and other forms of therapy.
- Bladder Prolapse. Bladder prolapse occurs when the tissues surrounding the bladder become weak or stretched and the bladder protrudes into the vagina. Symptoms include pelvic pain and lower back pain, difficulty urinating and feeling that the bladder isn’t empty after urinating.
How To Improve Your Urological Health
Here are several tips for men, women, and children alike that have proven helpful in improving overall urological health, and preventing common diseases.
- Stay hydrated. This is the number one best way to keep your urinary tract functioning properly. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day can help flush bacteria out of your urinary tract.
- Drink cranberry juice. Cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections.
- Limit your salt and caffeine. Too much salt and caffeine can cause frequent urination and increase the risk of urinary incontinence.
- Maintain a healthy weight. The more excess fat on the body, the more pressure on the bladder. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can help urinary tract health as well.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoke and nicotine can irritate the bladder, and smoking can increase the risk of bladder cancer.
- Do Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic area, which can promote lifelong bladder control.
- Urinate before bed. Emptying the bladder before bedtime, and encouraging children to do so as well, can prevent urinary incontinence and keep you from having to get up in the night to urinate.
- Limit fluid intake. While staying hydrated is important, if you frequently have the urge to urinate at inopportune times, or have urinary incontinence, it may be best to limit your liquid intake at certain times.
- Use athletic “cups” (boys). Especially for young boys, using athletic cups while playing sports can help prevent injury.
- Wipe front to back (girls). Wiping the genital area front to back after going to the bathroom can prevent bacteria from entering the urinary tract.
To learn more, see the articles about various Urological conditions above.