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39 E XC RE TORY SYST E M U RIN A R Y T R AC T IN FE C TION S Just like other parts of the body, the excretory system can become infected. That means that pathogens—disease-causing bacteria, viruses, or parasites—have settled in among healthy cells and are harming them. Infections of the excretory system are known as urinary tract infections, or UTIs. Bacteria are usually to blame. Bacteria are plentiful on the skin, and usually are harmless there. But if they work their way into the urethra, they can infect it.

But in larger amounts they can harm cells before the kidneys have time to get rid of the excess. The most common toxins the body needs to get rid of are made by the body itself. They are waste molecules that cells make as part of their everyday activities. The waste molecules collect outside of the cells. They 33 E XC RE TORY SYST E M drift into the bloodstream and are carried away. The waste is removed when it goes through the kidneys. The most toxic kinds of cellular waste have nitrogen in them, and the body works hard to remove these wastes.

This can cause painful kidney infections, shown here as yellow streaks in inside the kidney. 42 Problems with the Excre tor y S ystem of the ureters. Usually the flow of urine going down the ureters prevents this. Still, bacteria occasionally work their way up into one or both kidneys. An infected kidney is a serious matter. Bacteria release chemicals that injure cells. Fluid collects in the infected kidney, too, and the organ gets swollen. A swollen kidney cannot make urine well, and it causes a lot of pain.

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