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.
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.
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
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.