But this month, we want you to be aware of your bladder on a regular basis. It’s important to understand how to keep your bladder healthy and look for warning signs that tell you something isn’t quite right.
The Role Of Your Bladder
Your bladder is an organ whose main purpose is to store urine. Located behind the pelvic bone and just under the kidneys, this grapefruit sized bag expands and contracts to hold and release urine. After the urine has been processed in the kidneys, it travels down tubes called ureters and into the bladder where it is stored. Your bladder expands to hold up to 16 ounces of urine at a time! When it’s time to urinate, the urine leaves the bladder through the urethra and your bladder empties. While most people can hold urine comfortably for up to five hours, those who cannot may be experiencing two of the greatest warning signs that something is wrong—overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.
Overactive bladder (OAB) affects over 33 million Americans. While it is not a disease, it is a very uncomfortable and untimely group of symptoms. OAB is most often connected to the strong sense of urgency to urinate, even after you’ve recently emptied your bladder. This occurs most likely because of excess caffeine in your system, constipation, or for men—an enlarged prostate. However, there are many other causes of overactive bladder that your doctor can help you understand and treat. If you suffer from overactive bladder, contact your doctor soon, before your symptoms expand and lead to urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is the other warning sign that your bladder is not as healthy as it should be. Urinary incontinence occurs when you cannot control urine “leaking” from your body at an inopportune time. Actions such as sneezing, coughing, or laughing can cause the detrusor muscle to contract, sending urine into the urethra and out of the body. In America today, 25 million people experience urinary incontinence, so while it seems normal or even a product of aging, that number can decrease. You don’t have to live with embarrassment or frustration caused by urinary incontinence—treatment is possible!
Keeping Your Bladder Healthy
In order to keep your bladder healthy and prevent unwanted symptoms from overactive bladder and urinary incontinence, it’s important to take care of your bladder year round. Avoiding drinks with caffeine like soda, tea, and coffee, as well as alcohol, will slow down your bladder activity and prevent you from unwanted leaks. There are also some foods that increase urinary incontinence, so keep chocolate, acidic foods, and spicy foods out of your diet. Make sure that every day you drink six to eight glasses of water to keep your bladder functioning to the best of its ability. When you go to the bathroom, make sure you empty your bladder completely. By holding urine for an extended period of time, you are more susceptible to a urinary tract infection. Women should sit down on the toilet seat, rather than hovering above it. And lastly, do exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor. Keeping those muscles strong will help prevent urinary incontinence and support a healthy bladder.
Isn’t it great to know that you can take control of your bladder health? If you suffer from urinary incontinence or overactive bladder, treatment is possible. Let Mississippi Urology Clinic help you discover the causes of these symptoms and give you the tools you need to live a life free from embarrassment. Make an appointment at one of our six locations today.