Maintaining a Healthy Bladder: 15 Practical Tips
by Meghan Griech, PT, DPT, cert MDT, CKTP
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Bladder health is often overlooked, yet it affects everyone. Situated in the lower abdomen, the bladder, resembling a balloon, stores urine—waste and excess fluid from our food and drink. As individuals age, the bladder undergoes changes, with elastic tissue potentially becoming less stretchy, resulting in reduced urine capacity and increased frequency of bathroom visits. Additionally, weakened bladder walls and pelvic floor muscles may lead to incomplete bladder emptying and urine leakage.
While some factors affecting bladder health are beyond control, here are 15 steps to proactively promote its well-being:
Regular Bathroom Breaks:
Aim to urinate every 3 to 4 hours to prevent weakening of bladder muscles and reduce the risk of infections.
Maintain a relaxed posture while urinating to ease bladder emptying. For women, sitting on the toilet seat is preferable to hovering.
Complete Bladder Emptying:
Take sufficient time when urinating to ensure the bladder empties fully, minimizing the risk of infections associated with retained urine.
Wipe from front to back, especially after a bowel movement, to prevent gut bacteria from entering the urethra.
Urinate after sexual activity to minimize the transfer of bacteria from the bowel or vaginal cavity to the urethra.
Pelvic Floor Exercises:
Engage in pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) daily to strengthen muscles, reducing the likelihood of urine leakage during various activities.
Opt for cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to maintain dryness around the urethra, avoiding moisture buildup and bacterial growth.
Embrace regular physical activity to prevent bladder issues and address constipation, contributing to overall bladder health and weight management.
Maintain a Healthy Weight:
Make mindful dietary choices and engage in physical activity to support a healthy weight, reducing the risk of urinary leakage for those who are overweight.
Be mindful of foods and drinks that may exacerbate bladder problems, such as sodas, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, citrus fruits, and tomato-based products. Adjusting your diet could lead to improved well-being.
Consume enough fluids, particularly water, to ensure regular urination. Individual needs may vary based on factors like size, activity level, and location.
Limit Alcohol and Caffeine:
Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, as they can worsen bladder problems for many individuals. Cutting back may alleviate symptoms like urgency or frequency of urination.
Adopt a high-fiber diet, including whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, while staying hydrated and active to prevent constipation-related pressure on the bladder.
Smoking is linked to increased bladder problems and a higher risk of bladder cancer. Quitting smoking is a positive step toward promoting bladder health.
Understand Your Medications:
Be aware that certain medications may contribute to urine leakage. Consult with your healthcare provider, especially if medications impact nerve sensitivity or influence bladder function.
Recognizing Bladder Problems:
Bladder issues can disrupt daily life, affecting social interactions and productivity. Common problems include urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and urinary retention. Signs of a potential bladder problem include difficulty holding or leaking urine, increased urgency or frequency of urination, cloudy urine, blood in the urine, pain or burning during urination, and challenges with starting or maintaining a strong urine stream.
If experiencing these symptoms, seek advice from a healthcare provider. Treatment options may include lifestyle adjustments, exercises, medications, surgery, or a combination tailored to individual needs.
*Disclaimer: All information in this article is intended for instruction and informational purposes. The author(s) are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. This information is used to supplement not replace any advice you were provided from your doctor or another medical health professional. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied with this article.