Good health involves the entire body, including having a healthy bladder. Here are important tips and facts about bladder health and problems.
Facts About Bladder Health Problems and Conditions
Fortunately, the bladder is a determined, faithful organ that works just fine most of the time. There are, however, a few different bladder health problems to be aware of:
- Overactive Bladder: With an overactive bladder, you might feel sudden, difficult-to-control urges to urinate, incontinence, and frequent urination, including in the middle of the night.
- Urinary Incontinence: This is a loss of bladder control, often resulting in urine leaks when you sneeze or cough. As Mayo Clinic explains, "Urinary incontinence isn't a disease, it's a symptom. It can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions, or physical problems."
- Cystitis: This is a fancy medical term for bladder inflammation. "Most of the time, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, and it's called a urinary tract infection (UTI)." Though painful, they're generally not serious unless they go untreated and spread to the kidneys.
- Bladder Cancer: In 2014, approximately 696,440 people in the United States were living with bladder cancer; it's estimated there will be 79,030 new cases of the disease this year.
Facts About Bladder Health Maintenance
As with many health-related issues, your lifestyle plays a major role in maintaining bladder health. Here are a few facts about bladder health to help you:
- Drink Plenty of Water: How do you know you're getting enough water to support bladder health? If you're going to the bathroom every three or four hours. Ask your doctor to help you determine how much water is appropriate for you on a daily basis.
- Avoid Smoking and Consuming Alcohol and Caffeine: Though alcohol has not been conclusively shown to increase the risk of bladder cancer, it does increase your risk for several other cancers and can exacerbate other bladder problems. In 2011, "Current smokers in our study had a fourfold excess risk of developing bladder cancer." Not smoking and limiting alcohol and caffeine is good for your overall bladder health. Carbonated and acidic beverages as well as certain foods can also irritate bladder health.
- Wear Cotton Underwear and Loose Clothing: Tight clothing traps heat and moisture, which encourages the growth of bacteria.
- Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can put pressure on the bladder, causing incontinence.
- Do Pelvic Floor Exercises: Though often suggested to women after childbirth, both men and women can do Kegel exercises to improve bladder health by strengthening the pelvic floor and preventing incontinence.
- Don't Hold It! Avoid holding your urine for long periods of time, as that can tire your muscles and increase your risk of a urinary tract infection.
When to Talk to Your Doctor About Bladder Health or Problems
If left untreated, minor bladder health infections can lead to serious medical conditions. See your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms, which could be a sign of bladder infection or bladder cancer, or if you have a feeling that something about your bladder health and urinary habits doesn't seem quite right.
- Frequent Incontinence
- Frequent Urination
- Cloudy or Bloody Urine
- Pelvic Pain
- Pain or a Burning Sensation When You Urinate
- Low Back Pain
- A Growth in the Pelvic Area
Knowing facts about bladder health and problems is as important as keeping the rest of your body healthy. Even minor infections are uncomfortable and inconvenient, and incontinence can affect your quality of life and prevent you from enjoying your favorite activities. Talk to your doctor and get proactive in getting facts about bladder health: take preventive measures as part of your overall approach to living well.
Care Coordination and Help With Bladder Health or Problems
Our care coordination services include 24/7/365 telephone and online access to clinical Health Assistants who can answer healthcare questions, help you follow through on your doctor’s instructions, research more cost-effective options for your medications and other prescriptions, and connect you with support resources and important preventive care.