Toilet Bladder

The Importance of Bladder Health

It’s likely the only time you ever think about your bladder is when it’s full. Then few things are more important than finding a place to relieve yourself.

The bladder is often overlooked. The hollow, balloon-like organ stores urine which has toxins and other waste filtered from our kidneys. We pass about one and a half quarts of urine through the bladder daily.

Like so many other parts of the body, the bladder changes as we age. It tends to become less flexible, holding less urine, causing us to go to the bathroom more frequently. If it gets weak it may not fully empty causing urine to leak.

Doctor Talking with Patient

It’s OK To Talk About It

The bladder deals with eliminating waste from the body which can make it an embarrassing topic for some people. But it shouldn’t be. Your bladder, and its place in the urinary tract, is integral to eliminating toxins from the body.

It plays an important role for women and men.

For Women

Women should never chalk up incontinence or other bladder issues to childbirth or aging. Some women withdraw from activities or change their routines because of bladder issues. Also, most doctors don’t routinely ask about bladder function so it’s important to speak up.

See your primary care provider if:

  • You avoid activities because of urine leakage,
  • You often feel an urgent need to urinate, rush to the bathroom, but don’t always make it,
  • You feel the need to urinate but can’t, or
  • You notice your stream is getting weaker or you feel you can’t empty your bladder completely.

Bladder Infection Symptoms

Women suffer bladder infections more often, but they also happen in men. Some symptoms include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Burning or tingling during or just after urination
  • Cloudy urine with a strong odor
  • Frequent urination
  • Low-grade fever
  • Trouble urinating
  • Urgent, persistent need to urinate
Woman Drinking Water

Tips for Bladder Health

No one can control everything that affects the bladder, but here are some steps that will help to keep it healthy.

  • Don’t hold it. Go when you need to go. Try to urinate every three to four hours.
  • Relax. It’s easier to empty your bladder when the surrounding muscles are relaxed. For women, that means sitting on the seat and not hovering above it.
  • Empty it fully. Don’t rush or you might not completely empty your bladder. This could lead to a bladder infection.
  • Wipe from front to back. This is important for women to keep bacteria out of the urethra, especially after a bowel movement.
  • Urinate after sex. Sex can move bacteria toward the urethra. Men and women should urinate shortly after sex.
  • Do Kegels. These pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles to help keep urine from leaking.
  • Wear cotton underwear. This will help keep the urethra dry and reduce the chances of bacteria growth.
  • Exercise. This helps prevent bladder problems.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. There is a greater chance of leaking urine if you are overweight.
  • Monitor your intake. Drinks like sodas or those with artificial sweeteners, fruit juices, tomato-based foods, and spicy foods make bladder problems worse for some people. So, pay attention.
  • Drink plenty of water. The more you drink the more you will need to urinate. Water is the best option. Check with your doctor because kidney conditions could mean you need to limit your water intake.
  • Limit alcohol or caffeine. These can make bladder problems worse.
  • Stay regular. Constipation can put pressure on the bladder and keep it from expanding.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of bladder cancer.
  • Track your medications. Some could make it more likely that your bladder leaks. Medications that help you sleep or relax may keep you from realizing you need to urinate.

We’re Here for Your Total Health

AltaMed is dedicated to your total wellness. We have more than 50 years of helping you grow healthy at every stage of life. Our primary goal is to help you live long and growth healthy, no matter your age.

We offer care for everyone including preventive services and age-appropriate screenings to help you feel your best, support for those managing one or more chronic conditions, and aging services tailored to your needs.

Follow this link to find a doctor in your area or make an appointment by calling (888) 499-9303.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Doctor Check Thyroid

The Thyroid Plays a Huge Role in Your Health

Everyone can relate to their “check engine” light coming on. It usually happens because a sensor buried somewhere under a hood noticed a loose cable or a hole in a vacuum hose. It’s typically not a huge problem, but it should be addressed soon, before it gets worse.

That’s like your thyroid. It’s a butterfly-shaped gland at the base and front of your neck that pumps out hormones related to your metabolism. These hormones help control how quickly you burn calories, your heart rate, whether you feel cold, tired, or restless. Having your thyroid checked might not be a bad idea if you feel off in any of these areas.

More than 12% of the U.S. population will develop some thyroid condition according to the American Thyroid Association. It’s estimated that as many as 60% of those with thyroid disease or symptoms, don’t know it.

Doctor Showing a Thyroid 3D Model

Hypo- and Hyperthyroidism

The two most common diseases associated with the thyroid are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid — affects about 5% of Americans aged 12 years old and up. Most cases are mild with few symptoms. Women are much more likely than men to develop it. It’s also more common in people over 60.

Hyperthyroidism — an overactive thyroid — is less common, affecting about 1% of Americans. It is also more common in women than men and people over 60. It can also lead to more serious health problems than hypothyroidism if left untreated. They include:

  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Osteoporosis
  • Graves’ ophthalmopathy which can lead to vision loss
  • Menstrual and fertility issues in women

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms and Causes

Hyperthyroidism presents itself in different ways, depending on the person. They generally include:

  • Weight loss despite increased appetite
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Fatigue, irritability, nervousness, or trouble sleeping
  • Muscle weakness or shaky hands
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Sweating or trouble tolerating heat
  • A large growth on the neck called a goiter

There are several potential causes including:

  • Graves’ disease which is when the immune system attacks the thyroid
  • Overactive thyroid nodules
  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Too much iodine
  • Too high of a dose of hypothyroid medicine
  • A benign tumor of the pituitary gland

Treatment options include medication, radioiodine therapy, and surgery.

Doctor Doing a Throat Ultrasound

More on Hypothyroidism

You are more likely to have an underactive thyroid if you have other health problems like celiac disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or a deficiency of vitamin B12. Women can also develop hypothyroidism during pregnancy, but medications can usually take care of that.

Hypothyroidism can lead to high cholesterol, which is a good reason to get it treated. In extremely rare cases, untreated hypothyroidism can lead to a life-threatening slowing of body functions called myxedema coma. This condition requires immediate medical treatment.

Hypothyroidism symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Dry or thinning hair
  • Fatigue
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Weight gain

It is typically treated with thyroid medication.

Female Doctor Checking on Kid

It Starts with Primary Care

The primary care doctors at AltaMed are knowledgeable about a wide variety of medical concerns. Besides giving you immunizations and routine screenings (like blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar), they can help you manage chronic, or ongoing conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, and high blood pressure. They can even help with your thyroid.

Even if your health is good, overall, a primary care doctor can help you lose weight, reduce stress, become more active, and achieve other health goals.

Make an appointment today by calling (888) 499-9303 to enroll.

Man Holding his Knee

Don’t Let Arthritis Control Your Life

If you’ve ever seen an ad for an arthritis drug, it probably featured a middle-aged or older adult grasping their hands or a knee while in the middle of doing some activity like gardening or walking up steps.

This is because arthritis is a common condition affecting 58.5 million adults in the U.S. That’s nearly one-quarter of adults. More than half of those with arthritis (57.3%) are between 18 and 64 years old.

It can be painful and in some cases, even debilitating. But it can be controlled, and people manage to live healthy, active lives with the proper diet, exercise, and medication.

Woman Giving Herself a Hands Massage

Understanding Arthritis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define arthritis as the swelling of at least one joint. It can describe more than 100 conditions that affect joints, the tissue around a joint, and other connective tissue. The most common symptoms include joint pain and stiffness.

  • Osteoarthritis — This is the most common form of arthritis, occurring most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis — Also called RA, this is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake.
  • Gout — This is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints. It can be extremely painful.
  • Fibromyalgia — This causes pain all over the body. It can also lead to sleep problems, fatigue, mental, and emotional distress.
  • Lupus — This is another autoimmune disease affecting numerous parts of the body because the immune system can’t tell the difference between healthy tissue or bacteria and viruses.
Mother and Daughter Doing Exercise

Living with Arthritis

You play an important role in managing your life with arthritis. One way is by learning all you can following diagnosis. It is also important to monitor when and where you feel pain. This will help you and your doctor develop a plan. Make sure to alert your doctor if your pain changes.

It is important to:

  • Keep moving — Do gentle stretching each day to take your joints through their full range of motion. 
  • Use good posture — Work with a physical therapist to learn how to sit, stand, and move correctly.
  • Know your limits — Don’t overwork yourself.
  • Manage your weight — Small, permanent changes and lead to gradual weight loss, which is important. Excess weight can cause added joint pain and complications.
  • Quit smoking — It stresses connective tissues which can cause arthritis pain.
Man Swimming

Choose the Right Activities

Movement is important to improving function, mood, and quality of life. At least 30 minutes of moderately-intense exercise a day is a good goal. However, you want to watch what you do. Walking, biking, and swimming are good activities as they don’t put increased stress on your joints.

There are some activities that you should avoid. They include:

  • Running
  • Jumping rope
  • Tennis
  • High-impact aerobics

Stay away from any activity that involves stressful, repetitive motions.

Woman with Neck Pain

Don’t Get Discouraged

Feeling pain doing activities that you used to do on a regular basis can be discouraging. It is important not to let those feelings overwhelm you or lead to hopeless thoughts. That will make your pain worse.

Steps you can take include:

  • Relaxation therapy — Meditation, deep breathing, listening to music, or journaling are just some of the things you can do to help you relax and ease the pain.
  • Hot and cold therapy — Using heating pads, taking hot baths, or hot showers can help relieve pain temporarily. Don’t use heating pads more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid burning yourself. Ice packs can also relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Massage therapy — This can help to ease pain and stiffness temporarily. Make sure the therapist knows where arthritis affects you.
  • Talk therapy — Combined with behavior modification, this can help to identify and break self-defeating thoughts and activities.
  • Acupuncture — Some people find relief through treatment with a trained acupuncturist. It may take several weeks, however, before you notice improvement.

Find Help at AltaMed

If you have pain that you think may be arthritis, talk to your doctor sooner rather than later. If you catch it in the early stages, your doctor can suggest some simple lifestyle changes that can keep you moving and feeling healthy for years to come. If you don’t already have a doctor, find your nearest AltaMed location and give them a call.

The Importance of Bladder Health