The bladder is one of those organs that we rarely think about, except when we really have to go — and when we can’t control when we go.
Fortunately, caring for our bladders is a pretty simple proposition. Most of the effort is on keeping the muscles around the bladder strong and keeping potentially harmful bacteria out of the bladder.
These tips can help:
- Drink Plenty of Fluid
Drinking plenty of fluids — especially water — helps keep bacteria flushed out of your bladder. Drinking more naturally means urinating more — both in terms of frequency and volume — so going to the bathroom more often when you increase your fluid intake is normal. Avoiding diuretics, such as soda and beverages that contain caffeine, can help reduce the frequent need to urinate. If frequent urination is a persistent problem, you may have a condition called overactive bladder that needs to be evaluated by a medical provider.
- Take Your Time
Adequately draining your bladder may take longer than we think, especially as we age. Intermittent start-and-stop urination is actually pretty common. So if you need to spend a little bit longer at the commode to make sure your bladder is empty, do. If you tighten your muscles to stop urination or leave with urine still in the urethra, that urine will retreat back up into the bladder, potentially carrying bacteria with it that can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection, or UTI.
- Keep Away from Tobacco
Tobacco is one of the leading contributors to cancer, and not just lung cancer or cancers of the mouth — bladder cancer, too, can result from tobacco use. More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year, and tobacco use can double your risk of developing bladder cancer compared to nonsmokers.
- Do Your Kegels
Kegel exercises can strengthen the muscles that control the release of urine from the bladder, helping to prevent urinary incontinence. Kegels are easy to do — just flex and release the muscles in your pelvis over and over, especially those that control the flow of urine. You can do them while seated at your desk or watching television. If you’re not sure you’re doing the exercises correctly, feel free to speak with a urologist or gynecologist.
- Develop a Taste for Cranberry Juice
People who experience UTIs are invariably told at some point to try drinking cranberry juice as a remedy, and the advice isn’t without some merit. While recurring UTIs can indicate a need for specialized urology care, some UTIs can be prevented with regularly drinking cranberry juice. Research hints that the ingredients in the juice may keep bacteria from sticking to the lining of the bladder and urinary tract, so the infection never has an opportunity to set in.
If you have any questions about your bladder health, you can find a urology specialist on Tanner’s medical staff by clicking Find a Provider or by calling Tanner’s 24-hour physician referral line at 770-214-CARE (2273).