Organs in the Excretory System and Their Functions

The excretory system is essential to one’s health. Its responsibility is to remove waste from the body. The excretory system is made up of numerous organs that work in unison to ensure that waste is effectively removed from your body. Below are the details of the organs of excretory system, along with the roles they play in detoxification.

Primary Excretory System Organs

1. Kidneys

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs of a reddish brown color that are found in the sides of the vertebral column. Once the body has extracted what it needs from food and drink, it sends the wastes to the kidneys. The kidneys filter the wastes, including urea, salt and excess water, which are flushed out of the body as urine.

2. Skin

The skin performs its excretory function via the sweat glands. These glands produce sweat that contains salt, excess oils, water, and other unnecessary substances which are then excreted out of the body through small pores. Sweating also helps to cool the body during evaporation.

3. Lungs

The lungs are very important excretory organs as they expel carbon dioxide from the body via exhalation. The lungs use cells known as alveoli to remove the carbon dioxide from our blood. Otherwise, the carbon dioxide would accumulate and have a detrimental effect to our body.

Accessary Excretory System Organs

1. Liver

Although considered a secondary, or accessary excretory system organ, the liver plays a vital part in keeping the body clean. Harmful poisons and chemicals that are either produced in the body or consumed are broken down and detoxified by the liver. For example, a bi-product of the metabolic process within the body is ammonia and the liver processes this into urea, a less harmful substance which continues to be filtered and excreted by the kidneys as urine. 

2. Gallbladder

Although the gallbladder does not have a highly significant role to play in the excretory system, it does have a function that assists the overall process. Bile, a liquid produced by the liver to break down waste, is first stored in the gallbladder. When needed, it is discharged into the small intestine whose role is to break down fats, ethanol and other acidic wastes.

3. Urinary Bladder

The waste fluid that is created in the liver and collected in the kidney is transferred into the urinary bladder where it is temporarily stored until the individual urinates. The urinary bladder provides a short term solution for storing urine in the body until it is ultimately discharged.

4. Ureters

The ureters tubes of smooth muscle fiber transfer liquid waste from the kidneys into the urinary bladder. The urine is moved with peristaltic movements which force the urine away from the kidneys. The ureters also have ureterovesical valves which ensure the waste fluid does not travel back into the kidney.

5. Urethra

The urethra runs through the penis in males, and serves as a carrier of semen as well as urine for their ultimate discharge out of the body. The urethra tube is shorter in females and is just above the vaginal opening.

6. Large Intestine

Food particles are absorbed into the blood stream via the small intestine. The undigested substances are transferred to the large intestine which essentially serves as a storage organ for the excretory products. The descending, ascending and transverse colons also facilitate the absorption of leftover vitamins, water and salt. The distal straight section (known as the rectum) is used for the storage of waste products (feces) before they are excreted from the body via the anal canal with the help of internal and external sphincters.

Common Diseases Affecting Excretory System Organs

1. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are believed to form from crystals that have separated from urine, forming hard masses in the urinary tract, though the exact cause is unknown.  Symptoms for kidney stones include extreme pain, cramping in the lower abdominals and back, nausea, and vomiting. Most kidney stones can be passed by increasing your intake of water to flush them out, although surgery may be needed in some cases.

2. Urethritis

Urethritis is a viral or bacterial infection that causes inflammation of the urethra. Symptoms for urethritis vary between the sexes.

  • Symptoms for men include pain or swelling of the penis, blood in urine or semen, frequent urination and pain during ejaculation.
  • Symptoms for females include pain during urination, abdominal pain, fever, chills, frequent urination, vaginal discharge and pelvis pain. Urethritis is usually treated with anti-viral medication, or antibiotics. Painkillers are often used to help sufferers combat the symptoms.

3. Pyelonephritis

Pyelonephritis is a type of urinary tract infection that travels from the urethra or bladder and to the kidneys. This infection occurs when bacteria enter the body through the urinary tract. Symptoms include frequent urination, burning during urination, blood in the urine, pain in the groin and abdominal pain. Pyelonephritis is usually treated with oral anti-biotics, although the anti-biotics are sometimes administered intravenously in cases of severe infections.

4. Cystitis

Cystitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder and it is one of the most common disease that affects excretory system organs. As the bladder stores urine before it is excreted from the body, bacteria can build up in the bladder and cause cystitis.

5. Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the infection of the urethra or the bladder. The symptoms include abdominal pain, painful or difficult urination and fever. The best way to avoid UTI is by drinking loads of water.

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