A Guide to Keeping Your Bladder Healthy

Introduction
What is the bladder, and what does it do?
Common bladder problems
How to promote bladder health and prevent problems
References 


The bladder is an important organ, the health of which is often overlooked, which can lead to serious health problems, particularly later in life. Here we discuss the role of the bladder, common health problems relating to the bladder, and how to prevent these and promote general bladder health.

Bladder Health

Image Credit: Natali _ Mis/Shutterstock.com

What is the bladder, and what does it do?

The bladder is an organ that operates alongside the kidneys, ureters, and urethra to make up the urinary tract. The role of this system is to filter waste and surplus fluid from the bloodstream and expel them from the body.

The bladder is a balloon-shaped organ that is hollow and muscular. It sits between the hip bones, in the pelvis. A properly functioning bladder acts as a reservoir, holding up to two cups of urine before it needs to expel the waste.

Common bladder problems

Poor bladder health emerges as a number of common bladder problems, such as cystitis, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, interstitial cystitis, bladder stones, and bladder cancer. Some of these issues are easily preventable and treatable, whereas others are more serious and can even cause death (e.g., bladder cancer).

How to promote bladder health and prevent problems

One of the simplest ways to promote bladder health is to drink water. It is recommended that the average person should drink around 2 liters of water per day. It is emphasized that most of a person’s daily fluid intake should be water and that caffeinated and fizzy drinks should be kept to a minimum.

Keeping good bladder health can also be encouraged by going to the bathroom whenever required. Holding in the urge to urinate can weaken the bladder muscles, which, over time, can make it more challenging for the bladder to empty itself completely. Additionally, holding urine in the bladder for long periods can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) due to the increased chance of allowing bacteria to grow.

In addition to urinating as regularly as required, it is also recommended that efforts are made to empty the bladder when urinating fully. Rushing when urinating can lead to urine being stored in the bladder for long periods, which (as discussed above) can trigger infections.

Urinating after sex has been advised by health professionals for many years. There is evidence to suggest that urinating after intercourse might reduce the risk of UTIs among women, particularly those with a history of UTIs.

It is suggested that pelvic floor exercises (or Kegel exercises) can prevent or control urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems. These exercises are believed to maintain strength in the pelvic floor, thus maintaining healthy bladder function. Both men and women are encouraged to partake in Kegel exercises.

Engaging in regular physical activity can also promote bladder health. This is because there is evidence to suggest that being overweight can increase a person’s chance of leaking urine. Exercise can prevent this by helping a person maintain a healthy weight. Similarly, food choices can impact body weight. Overall, making healthy choices and developing healthy habits are beneficial to bladder and overall health.

Diet should also be considered regarding the types of food and drink being regularly consumed, as some are known to contribute to deteriorating bladder health, whereas others promote it. Cutting down on or limiting alcohol, caffeine, and soda is advisable, and some bladder-cleansing foods have been identified as pears, bananas, whole grains, green beans, potatoes, nuts, and eggs.

Healthy Diet

Image Credit: margouillat photo/Shutterstock.com

A piece of advice that healthcare professionals commonly give is to wear cotton underwear. The rationale is that cotton is breathable and prevents too much moisture from being held close to the skin. It is believed that this trapping of moisture can help bacteria grow. However, in recent years some professionals have expressed their opinion that underwear that fits well has no impact on the skin microenvironment, regardless of its material. The takeaway here is to wear underwear that fits well and is comfortable and to change out of moist or damp underwear or clothing as soon as possible (e.g., after exercising).

Lastly, individuals need to be educated on the symptoms of bladder illnesses. It is advised that people pay attention to how they urinate, even if they are in good health, to enable them to spot the signs and symptoms of bladder problems early. Some signs of bladder problems include the inability to hold urine, frequent urination, cloudy urine, passing blood in the urine, pain before, during, or after urinating, trouble starting urinating, and trouble emptying the bladder. Increasing one’s awareness of the signs and symptoms of bladder problems can help one access the medical care they need before problems have progressed and become more difficult to treat.

References:

Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Sarah Moore

Written by

Sarah Moore

After studying Psychology and then Neuroscience, Sarah quickly found her enjoyment for researching and writing research papers; turning to a passion to connect ideas with people through writing.

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