November is National Bladder Health Month, and we are glad that an entire month is dedicated to the importance of the bladder. It’s an organ that often goes unrecognized in its impact on your body’s health until it stops working the way it should, but it’s a crucial part of your urinary system as well as your overall well-being. Even your emotions can be impacted when you experience adverse symptoms that come with a condition such as an overactive bladder (OAB), bladder cancer, Interstitial Cystitis (also known as Bladder Pain Syndrome), incontinence (loss of bladder control) or urinary retention (an inability to empty the bladder completely), to name a few more common issues.
Literally millions of people are affected by these conditions, particularly incontinence (which is estimated to affect anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of all men and women in the United States), so it’s important to bring awareness about bladder health, bladder conditions, and how common they are, as a first step of getting rid of the stigma associated with these issues.
Top 5 Tips for Bladder Health
We here at 180 Medical are committed to making sure you have the information you need to stay as healthy as possible, so here are some tips for your bladder’s health.
1. Watch what you drink.
Drinking the right amount of water for your individual needs (typically between six to eight 8 oz. glasses) is, of course, crucial for your body’s overall health. The proper amount of fluid assists your entire urinary system in doing its job to flush waste from your body. But did you know that both caffeine (usually consumed in the form of coffee, certain sodas, or tea) and alcohol are both bladder irritants? Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which can overstimulate the bladder and reduces your body’s fluid. These are both things you’ll want to avoid, particularly if you are dealing with symptoms of incontinence or overactive bladder.
2. Quit smoking.
Did you know that smoking tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, etc.) actually increases the risk of bladder cancer? If you smoke, you are actually 2 to 3 times more likely to develop bladder cancer than non-smokers. The chemicals in tobacco are filtered through your lungs, out of your blood, and finally into the urinary system as waste, and eventually, these chemicals can affect the lining of the bladder, which increases the chance of cancer developing over time. Among the other many reasons to quit smoking, this is certainly an important one to consider.
3. Lose excess weight.
If you are overweight, working to lose weight can also help reduce symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. When extra weight presses down on the bladder and the supporting muscles, it makes it harder for your body to hold on to the fluid inside the bladder, which can cause leakage, especially when you laugh, cough, sneeze. Daily exercise and eating right can help you get closer to your fitness goals as well as improve your bladder’s health.
4. Do your daily Kegels.
Just like lifting weights strengthens and tones your muscles, Kegel exercises are important for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and the urethra, which can have a very positive effect and lessens symptoms of incontinence. Learn more about how to perform Kegels here.
5. Talk to your doctor.
If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as urine leakage, an inability to void your bladder, or any pain/discomfort in the pelvic region or when urinating, be sure to schedule an appointment to see a healthcare professional that can best diagnose what’s going on as well as determine a proper treatment plan. Many avoid going to see a urologist or their general practitioner about their “bathroom troubles,” because it can feel embarrassing, but as said, many people experience these issues too, and doctors are there to get you well again.
If you need to use intermittent catheters as part of your doctor’s treatment plan, we’re happy to help you find the best catheter for your needs. Contact us today to speak with one of our trained, friendly specialists.