Millions of Americans suffer from a variety of bladder problems each year, increasing risks to their overall health. Bladder function is an important part of the body’s urinary system, which filters fluid and waste from the body, regulates hormones, stabilizes electrolyte levels, maintains bone strength, and even assists in the production of red blood cells.
Many problems that affect the bladder may indicate or lead to problems with other parts of the urinary system, such as the kidneys, and eventually affect the entire body in severe cases. Some of these issues include:
Incontinence: When it comes to bladder function, incontinence refers to an inability to voluntarily control urination. The most common form of incontinence is urge incontinence (also known as overactive bladder). Other forms include stress incontinence, functional incontinence, and overflow incontinence.
Bladder cancer: Approximately 75,000 Americans develop bladder cancer each year. It occurs more frequently in men. This condition may develop as transitional cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or adenocarcinoma. Bladder cancer may be caused by smoking, genetics, exposure to certain chemicals, arsenic, chronic urinary tract infections, certain chemotherapy drugs, and the herb Aristolochia fangchi.
Interstitial cystitis: This condition causes bladder pressure and pelvic pain, as well as a more frequent urge to urinate in smaller volumes.
Urinary tract infection: These infections can occur anywhere in the urinary system, including the bladder, causing a variety of symptoms that includes frequent urination, pain while urinating, dark or cloudy urine, and lower back and abdominal pain.
Nocturia: This disorder causes more frequent urination during the night and may be a symptom of a more serious condition such as diabetes, heart conditions, or insomnia.
You can prevent these conditions and promote good bladder health in many different ways. A healthy diet is limited in alcohol, caffeine, and other substances that aggravate your bladder problems, but high in water can help. Additionally, regular exercise, particularly routines that incorporate pelvic floor exercises, can improve your bladder strength and reduce urination frequency.
Good hygienic habits can also help to protect your bladder health. You should:
- Use the bathroom when needed and fully empty your bladder.
- Urinate after sex.
- Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom.
- Wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing.
Finally, you should visit a urologist annually over the age of 40 and as soon as possible if you’re suffering from symptoms of a medical issue with your urinary system. You can schedule an appointment with a urologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (718) 206-7001.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.