MYTH: Small Bladder, Big Problems
Some people blame frequent leaks on a small bladder, but your body’s normal “capacity” is seldom the true cause of a life-disrupting problem. In healthy people, that capacity ranges from 1 to 2 cups. The real culprit is likely to be weak muscles, medication side effects, infection, or nerve damage. Effective treatments are available.
FACT: Twice a Night isn’t Right
One bathroom trip during the night may be acceptable, but for two or more – called nocturia – it’s time for a check-up. To determine if it’s caused by a treatable condition, your doctor will want more information: a bathroom diary, record of fluid intake, and a list of medications and known illnesses. Some possible causes include drinking a lot just before bed, an enlarged prostate, certain medications, and overactive bladder.
MYTH: You need 8 glasses a day
We don’t all need eight glasses of water a day, the one-size-fits all health mantra that just won’t die. If you tend to leak, this could be why. Fluid needs differ, depending on your size and activity. The best advice for healthy people is to drink when you’re thirsty and stay hydrated. This keeps urine from becoming too concentrated and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones.
FACT: Anyone can have bladder trouble
Bladder problems impact men and women at many different stages of life. Though they might be more common in certain groups – including women who have had children, older adults, men with a history of prostate trouble, and people with spinal cord injuries – no one should suffer silently. People with problems should seek advice from the doc.
MYTH: Drinking Less is Best
Waving off the waiter when he tries to refill your glass may help a little. But doctors say a full functioning bladder should be able to handle a normal fluid intake. You might want to consider downsizing that morning cup of coffee or skipping the cola because caffeine is a bladder stimulant.
FACT: It’s Not Always a Prostate Problem
Plumbing problems in men can sometimes be caused by an overactive bladder, not related to an enlarged prostate. Both conditions can send men running to the bathroom again and again, but the treatments are different. Talk to the doctor about all your symptoms, what tests may be needed, and what treatments may be appropriate.
FACT: KEGEL Exercises Are For Men Too
You may have heard of women doing these bladder control moves after childbirth. Doctors recommend them for men too. While urinating, try stopping the flow midstream. Then, start again. The muscles that stop your flow are what you want to work on strengthening. Next, on an empty bladder, try contracting these muscles for 3 to 5 seconds and them release, and keep the stomach, buttocks, and legs relaxed. Work up to three sets of 10 repetitions each day. You can do Kegels anywhere, anytime, without anyone noticing.
FACT: A System and Schedule May Help
Bladder training is a first step that may help some people with overactive bladders. You resist the first urge to go and wait for the scheduled time. Gradually, you can try holding it longer. Together with Kegels, these two methods can cut overactive bladder episodes by half.
FACT: Shaping up for Bladder Control
A healthy lifestyle may play a supportive role in preventing and lessening some bladder problems. Getting regular physical activity and doing Kegel exercises can reduce stress incontinence, the leakage caused by coughing, laughing, or sneezing. And because carrying a lot of extra weight causes bladder troubles, slimming down may help too.
MYTH: Bladder Problems Are a Fact of Life
If bladder problems are bothering you, talk with your healthcare provider. Incontinence is a medical problem – not an inevitable part of aging. Treatments will depend on a person’s specific problem and overall health, and people who seek help often see improvements in their symptoms and their day to day life.
See you next week.
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