What is the Excretory System?

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  • Written By: Alex Said
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 April 2020
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The excretory system is a system within the body that consists of several organs that remove waste products as well as dangerous substances from the body. This is primarily to make sure that the body’s systems remain in homeostatic conditions. This helps in preventing damage to the body and cause such conditions as renal failure, gout, and kidney stones. The excretory system's responsibilities include removing waste products that are the result of metabolism as well as gaseous and liquid waste products.

Wastes can be accumulated by the foods we eat and the liquids that we drink. When proteins are broken down by the body, they produce urea as a waste product. Other substances that produce waste include carbohydrates, which produce carbon dioxide and water as waste products. It is the job of the excretory system to rid the body of these wastes.

The main organs responsible for many of the excretory functions within humans are the kidneys. Their main functions include ridding the body of water, urea, and other waste products. The kidneys expel these waste products as urine.

Each kidney consists of one million nephrons. A nephron is a basic filtering unit that regulates the amount of water within the body. Blood filtration also takes place within the nephrons. When filtration within the kidneys takes place, the waste products are accumulated within the nephrons and are expelled as urine.

Other systems also help excrete the body of waste products. The respiratory tract, for example, helps in eliminating water vapor and carbon dioxide. Defecation caused by the digestive system also helps in getting rid of solid wastes. The skin, being very absorbing, can also remove water and salts from the body through sweat.

Other organs that help excrete waste include the ureters, the urinary bladder, and the urethra. The ureters propel urine from the kidneys and secrete it to the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder takes up all the urine and disposes it from the body through the process of urination. The urinary bladder is connected to the outside of the body by the urethra.

The common health problems associated with the excretory system include gout, kidney stones, and renal failure. Gout occurs when uric acid is accumulated in the blood in a particular area of the body, resulting in inflammation. Kidney stones are a result of components of the urine separating and forming hard masses within the kidneys. Renal failure, a potentially fatal condition, occurs when the kidneys stop functioning.

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Post 1

It always amazes me when you read statistics like how many chemicals are found in the urine of children, pregnant women, whatever. The reports don't seem to know what is the function of the excretory system. It exists to clear toxins and other undigestables from your body.

In your urine means *not* in your cells, tissues, etc. It means that your kidneys did their job and filtered out whatever it was.

That said, of course there is some evidence that certain chemicals (like BPA) can be harmful. I just think it's important to keep in mind that evidence that something has passed through your body is not evidence that it is causing you any harm.

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