The kidneys control the amount of water in the blood and filter out waste products to form urine. Each kidney has a tube called a ureter, which joins the kidney to the bladder. The urine leaves the kidneys via the ureters and enters the bladder. The bladder ‘signals’ the urge to urinate and urine leaves the body via a tube called the urethra.
The urinary system is designed to minimise the risk of infection by preventing the urine from flowing back up into the kidneys. Despite this, urinary tract infections are very common - particularly in women, babies and people of advancing age - with around 250,000 Australians affected every year.
Urinary tract infections are caused by micro-organisms or germs, usually bacteria. The different types of urinary tract infection can include:
- Urethritis - infection of the urethra
- Cystitis - infection of the urine, which affects the bladder
- Pyelonephritis - infection of the kidneys.