The ultimate guide to keeping your bladder healthy
When most people think about their health, the bladder rarely comes to mind. After all, it is typically out of sight and therefore out of mind. But the bladder is a critical part of the body’s ecosystem. In addition to helping us expel waste from our bodies, the bladder serves a number of other functions that are essential for good health and wellbeing. Not only can problems with the bladder lead to discomfort and pain, but they can also disrupt many aspects of daily life.
This November marks Bladder Health Awareness Month, and it is the ideal time to recognize the importance of this small but vital organ. Here’s everything you need to know about the importance of bladder health in everyday life, the various disorders that affect the bladder, how to prevent these diseases and how to take care of your bladder.
How important is the bladder?
The bladder plays an essential role in our everyday lives. Not only does it help us eliminate waste from the body, but it is also responsible for regulating key bodily functions. For example, by storing urine until we can expel it through urination, the bladder ensures that our bodies are always supplied with the proper amount of water to function properly.
Additionally, the bladder affects our ability to sleep. When we need to urinate during the night, our body’s natural cortisol production is disrupted and this interrupts the sleep cycle.
How does your bladder health affect your everyday life?
An unhealthy bladder can lead to many issues that disrupt daily life. Those with overly frequent urination, for example, may find it difficult to focus at work or school due to a constant need to run off and use the restroom. Additionally, those with overactive bladders may frequently wet themselves while they are out in public spaces such as malls or movie theaters.
Furthermore, some people with bladder disorders may find themselves avoiding social situations altogether due to their discomfort and embarrassment. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, two problems that are inextricably linked to lower health outcomes.
What are common symptoms of bladder issues?
There are several common symptoms that may indicate a bladder issue. These include:
- Frequent urination: This is characterized by the need to urinate often, even when you haven’t drank much water or other fluids. Those with urinary tract infections may also experience an increased urgency to use the restroom and experience pain or burning during urination.
- Pain or discomfort in the bladder area: This may include burning sensations, pain during urination, pressure in the pelvis or lower abdomen, and a feeling of incomplete emptying after using the restroom. Interstitial cystitis may also result in pelvic pain that occurs even when you have not urinated recently.
- Blood in the urine: This is often a sign of more serious problems such as bladder cancer or kidney cancer, and should be evaluated by a medical professional.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help right away. A urologist or other specialist can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options for your condition.
What are some potential bladder problems?
While the role of the bladder in our everyday lives may be obvious, there are many health issues that can interfere with proper function. Some of these include:
- Urinary tract infections: These occur when bacteria enters the urethra and begins to multiply within the urinary tract. This can lead to pain, fever, and other unpleasant symptoms.
- Overactive bladder: Also known as urge incontinence or OAB, this type of disorder is characterized by sudden urges to urinate that occur frequently and are difficult to control. It affects both men and women and can be caused by a number of factors, including kidney stones, medication side effects, and nerve damage.
- Interstitial cystitis: This is a chronic issue that results in pain or burning sensations around the bladder area, frequent urination, and other symptoms. Additionally, interstitial cystitis can make it difficult to empty the bladder completely after urinating. It occurs when there is damage to the bladder lining and can be caused by stress, infection, or inflammation.
- Bladder cancer: This is a malignant tumor that occurs in the bladder wall and affects both men and women. While it is less common than some other types of cancer, it is still one of the most dangerous cancers due to its high mortality rate.
What to do when you’re experiencing bladder problems
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with bladder issues, it is important to seek medical help right away. This can help ensure that your condition is correctly diagnosed and allow you to receive effective treatment. Options for treating bladder problems may include:
- Behavioral therapy: In cases such as overactive bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis, patients may benefit from learning exercises or relaxation techniques to manage the neurological components of their condition.
- Medications: Certain medications can help to alleviate certain urinary symptoms, such as pain and burning during urination. These may include antibiotics for UTIs or anticholinergic drugs for overactive bladder.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair damage or remove tumors in the bladder. This is often used as a last resort when other treatments are not effective.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of bladder problems, it is important to seek medical help right away. A urologist or other specialist can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options for your condition. By working closely with your doctor, you can improve your quality of life and manage any bladder issues more effectively.
How to keep your bladder healthy
There are a number of ways to keep your bladder healthy, many of which are easy and can be incorporated into daily life. These include:
- Take a bathroom break when you need to. Make sure you urinate every 3 to 4 hours. Keeping urine in your bladder too long can weaken your bladder muscles and make you more likely to get a bladder infection.
- Keep your body relaxed while urinating. By relaxing the bladder muscles, you’ll be able to empty it easier. Sitting on the toilet seat is best for women who have trouble relaxing when hovering over the toilet seat.
- Take your time and don’t rush urination. It’s possible that you won’t be able to completely empty your bladder if you rush when you urinate. Bladder infections are more likely if urine stays in the bladder too long.
- Exercise your pelvic floor muscles. Exercises that strengthen your pelvic muscles, also known as Kegel exercises, help you hold urine. By strengthening these muscles, you can prevent urine from leaking when you sneeze, cough, lift, laugh, or need to suddenly urinate.
- Pee after sex. Sexual activity can move bacteria from the bowel or vaginal cavity to the urethra. Both women and men should urinate after sex to reduce infection risk.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear. Keep the area around your urethra dry by wearing loose, cotton clothes. Nylon underwear and tight pants trap moisture and help bacteria grow.
- Warm up before activities. Jumping into intense physical activity without warming your body can cause leaks in urine. If you need to lift something heavy or exercise intensely, make sure your body is warmed up first to avoid this problem.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help prevent bladder problems and constipation. Additionally, it can help you stay healthy and keep an ideal weight. The risk of leaking urine is higher for overweight people.
- Eat right. Various food and drinks can aggravate bladder problems, including sodas, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, citrus fruit juices, and tomato-based foods. Making healthy food choices can help you feel better.
- Stay hydrated, especially water. Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids that you need to pee every few hours.
- Keep alcohol and caffeine to a minimum. Many people find that drinking alcohol makes their bladder problems worse. Drinks high in caffeine like coffee, tea, and soda can upset the bladder and cause symptoms like frequent urination.
- Avoid diuretics. Medications containing diuretics make you urinate more often. Avoid taking these medications if possible, especially if you have a bladder condition.
- Avoid constipation. Constipation can make your bladder problems worse because it increases the risk of urine leaking out or becoming trapped in the body.
- Make sure you’re getting enough fiber. Women who have bladder problems should eat at least 25 grams of fiber every day. Women should aim for 21 grams per day and men should strive for 30 grams a day (or more if they are over age 50).
Following these tips will help ensure that your bladder stays healthy and functioning properly for many years to come. By making small changes to your daily routine, you can easily keep this vital part of the body in good condition for years to come.
Take charge of your bladder health
Keeping your bladder healthy is essential for maintaining good overall health. Knowing the signs and symptoms of bladder problems can help you get the care you need before things get worse. Whether you need testing or treatment for an existing condition or want to take proactive measures to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, Nao Medical is here to help you keep your bladder healthy and strong. So if you want to give your bladder the care it deserves, visit us at Nao Medical today.