Urological Conditions - Female Urology
Overview of Urinary Tract Infections

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A UTI is an infection in the urinary tract. Infections are caused by microbes - organisms too small to be seen without a microscope - including fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs. Normally, bacteria that enter the urinary tract are rapidly removed by the body before they cause symptoms. However, sometimes bacteria overcome the body's natural defenses and cause infection. An infection in the urethra is called urethritis. A bladder infection is called cystitis. Bacteria may travel up the ureters to multiply and infect the kidneys. A kidney infection is called pyelonephritis.

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract is the body's drainage system for removing wastes and extra water. The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist and located below the ribs, one on each side of the spine, toward the middle of the back. Every minute, a person’s kidneys filter about 3 ounces of blood, removing wastes and extra water. The wastes and extra water make up the 1 to 2 quarts of urine a person produces each day. The urine travels from the kidneys down two narrow tubes called the ureters. The urine is then stored in a balloonlike organ called the bladder and emptied through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder.

When the bladder empties, a muscle called the sphincter relaxes and urine flows out of the body through the urethra. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the penis in males and in front of the vagina in females.

What is the urinary tract?

The urinary tract is the body's drainage system for removing wastes and extra water. The urinary tract includes two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist and located below the ribs, one on each side of the spine, toward the middle of the back.

Every minute, a person's kidneys filter about 3 ounces of blood, removing wastes and extra water. The wastes and extra water make up the 1 to 2 quarts of urine a person produces each day. The urine travels from the kidneys down two narrow tubes called the ureters. The urine is then stored in a balloonlike organ called the bladder and emptied through the urethra, a tube at the bottom of the bladder.

When the bladder empties, a muscle called the sphincter relaxes and urine flows out of the body through the urethra. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the penis in males and in front of the vagina in females.

 
Additional Reference Documents (PDFs):

Urinary Tract Infections - What You Need to Know  NKUDIC: NIH Publication No. 12-6182 December 2011

References:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
AND HUMAN SERVICES

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)

National Institutes of Health
NIH Publication No. 12-6182
December 2011

Websites for Additional Information:

AUAFoundation - The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association

NKDEP - National Kidney Disease Education Program

NKUDIC-National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse

National Kidney and Urologic Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)Kidney and Urologic Diseases A-Z list of Topics and Titles

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