Similar to a balloon, the bladder is a hollow organ made of tissue that stretches and holds our urine until we are ready to release. It is part of our urinary system that includes the kidneys and urethra. We all use our bladder several times each and every day, but do we know how to keep this organ healthy?
There are several things that can affect the health of our bladder. We will discuss what those are, the signs that you should look for, and how you might be able to prevent them here.
What Can Affect the Bladder's Health
Diabetes is a serious disease that can affect many parts of the body and can lead to other health problems such as nerve damage. The bladder is made up of many nerves that could be damaged by diabetes. This damage could affect a person’s bladder control.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
When bacteria grows in the urethra and bladder, a UTI has occurred. A bladder infection is the most common type of UTI and can cause urinary urge incontinence. This is when there is a frequent and sudden need to urinate and may also cause you to leak urine before making it to the restroom. One common activity that might cause a UTI is the use of a catheter to urinate. Indwelling catheters introduce bacteria into the lining of the bladder, causing irritation and infection. Closed catheter systems may be helpful in preventing UTIs.
Constipation can happen when a person doesn’t have enough fiber in their diet, are taking certain medications, have a medical condition, or are inactive for long periods of time. This puts pressure on the bladder because of the stool that is built up in the colon. The bladder is unable to stretch like it should, therefore affecting the bladder’s health.
When a person carries a lot of extra weight, it increases pressure on the abdomen and bladder. This can also contribute to the weakening of the pelvic muscles and result in leakage from the bladder.
You may not think smoking has any relation to the health of one’s bladder, but the opposite is the case. Smoking causes harmful chemicals to collect in the urine and affect the bladder’s lining. This can ultimately lead to bladder cancer. Because the chemicals from smoking make their way directly into the bloodstream, they are filtered into the kidneys potentially forming ‘stones’. Kidney stones pass through the urethral tract, which can be a painful process. Also, ‘Smoker’s Cough’ can cause spasms in the bladder and lead to leakage.
Signs You May Have a Bladder Problem
Every person is different, therefore each person’s bladder behaves differently and some signs you may be experiencing could mean you have a problem with your bladder.
Come of the most common signs of a bladder probem are:
- Strong and frequent urges to urinate (urinary urge incontinence)
- Blood in the urine
- Cloudy urine
- Waking up multiple times throughout the night to go to the bathroom
- Leaking urine or the unability to hold it until you get to a restroom (urinary incontinence)
- Experiencing a burning sensation before, during, or after urinating
- Problems fully emptying your bladder
Just like any other health concern, always consult your doctor for their professional opinion if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. They may be able to do some testing to see if your bladder is actually in an unhealthy state and offer the right treatment options available to you if necessary.
Some Tips to Keep a Healthy Bladder
Even though we cannot control everything that happens to our overall health, including our bladder, we can take some measures to improve the health of our bladder. Here are a few suggestions that may contribute to keeping your bladder healthy:
Stay Active and Maintain a Healthy Weight
As we mentioned earlier, keeping your weight down will lessen any pressure on the bladder and allow you to release urine when it’s actually full. Exercising will also help to maintain a healthy weight and prevent possible constipation that can irritate the bladder.
Drink Enough Water
Try to drink the equivalent to your body weight in ounces of water each day. For most, this is 6-8 glasses of water per day. The bladder loves water and it is one of the best fluids that can help maintain its health. When you are getting enough fluids, your urine can flow freely and should be pale in color and odor-free.
Limit Intake of Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are known to increase bladder activity and can lead to a higher frequency and urgency to urinate. Reducing the intake of these types of beverages may help decrease these symptoms.
Do Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
Known as Kegel exercises, doing pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the pelvic muscles and prevent leaking. The stronger the muscles, the better the bladder is at holding in the urine until you can use a restroom.
Void Often and When You Need To
Try to never hold the need to use the restroom. Holding urine in the bladder for extended periods of time can not only lead to a bladder infection, but it can also weaken the muscles.
Make Sure to Wipe Correctly
For females, be sure to wipe from front to back after using the toilet. This process will help keep bacteria away from the urethra that could cause a UTI as we previously mentioned.
Maintaining a healthy bladder is good for your general health and an important organ to take care of. Should you have a medical condition that causes you to have urinary incontinence or urge incontinence, we offer products that might help you confidently get through your days and nights. As always, consult with your doctor first if you have any concerns that your bladder is not functioning properly.