November is Bladder Health Month. While many of us may not think about our bladder, Bladder Health Month serves as a reminder that bladder health should be considered.
Some important bladder health facts include:
- The bladder is a sack of muscle used for storing and excreting urine.
- Small amounts of bacteria can live in a healthy bladder.
- The way you eat and drink can affect your bladder.
- Certain health conditions such as diabetes can heighten your chance of getting a bladder infection.
“Bladder function is more complicated than many people realize,” said L. Thomas O’Connor, MD, urologist with Palmetto Health-USC Urology and a clinical assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. “It requires the brain to talk to the bladder and the bladder to talk to the brain. There is a lot of coordination between the two.”
According to O’Connor, there are three bladder health issues that he sees the majority of his patients for:
- Blood in the urine. The cause for blood in the urine is not always malignant, but it can be, especially in people over the age of 40.
- Infections. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common, particularly in women. O’Connor suggests that women with many UTIs see a doctor to make sure there aren’t any other problems in the bladder.
- Overactive bladders. This includes urgency of urination, frequency of urination and sometimes leakage in urine.
“Sometimes people will also have painful urination. These things can be related to constipation or large amounts of caffeine intake,” said O’Connor. “We can address these issues with simple things.”
O’Connor suggests a few things to help limit bladder issues and promote good bladder health:
- Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine is an irritant to the bladder and can increase frequency and urgency in urination.
- Drink water. According to O’Connor, healthy water intake is needed. Not everybody needs to drink eight glasses of water a day, but you should consume several a day to stay hydrated.
- Consume in moderation. Whether it be tea, soda or alcohol, you should be conscientious about keeping a healthy balance of fluids in your body.
“There are also a series of medicines and procedures we can use to address those symptoms in patients who don’t respond to conservative therapy,” said O’Connor.
O’Connor recommends that if lifestyle changes do not greatly impact your bladder issues, consult your doctor for further examination. For more information or to make an appointment with a urologist, visit PHUSCMG.org/Urology or call 803-434-4790.