For over 20 years, Bladder Health Awareness Month has been recognized each November. Its primary objective is to spread awareness by encouraging you to actively think about how your bladder works and to learn about potential bladder concerns before they arise.
According to the Urology Care Foundation (UCF), the bladder is a hollow organ, made up of mostly muscle, that changes shape as it accepts urine from the kidneys and ureters and squeezes to help you eliminate urine from your body. The average bladder holds approximately 16 ounces of urine, and according to a National Institute on Aging (NIA) report, about 1.5 quarts of urine are passed by adults each day. The UCF notes that 4-8 bathroom visits per day, and up to 2 per night, are considered normal, and encourages individuals to take their time to empty their bladder fully at each visit, to avoid infection.
As the NIA reminds us, as you grow older, your bladder changes just like your body changes. One third of individuals between 30-70 years old face incontinence issues, according to Health.com, and the UCF reports that more than 25 million U.S. individuals experience this problem and overactive bladder (OAB) symptoms, which can include sudden urges to visit the restroom, commonly affect at least 33 million U.S. adults. In addition, studies by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) indicate that approximately 17,000 women and 55,000 men get bladder cancer each year in the United States, which proves fatal for about 5,000 women and 11,000 men.
This November, SCPT urges you to consider several tips to help keep your bladder healthy:
- Think about what you drink, and how much you drink, each day. Health.com encourages consuming up to 2 liquid liters per day, which may include water, juices (tart cranberry offers great bladder benefits), soups, and other liquids. For optimum bladder health, the NIA suggests more than half of daily liquid consumption should be water-based, and Everyday Health reminds us to be cautious of caffeinated teas, coffees, and sodas, which cause more frequent urination.
- Train your pelvic floor muscles to help control incontinence. The UCF recommends Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, allowing urine to be held inside the bladder more efficiently. If you experience pelvic floor dysfunction, contact SCPT to learn about rehabilitative options available to consider.
- Keep moving. According to a report by Everyday Health, individuals who work in office-based jobs or live a more sedentary lifestyle may be affected by fluid retention in their legs during the day, causing more active bladder conditions at night. Consider walking more frequently during the day, lifting your legs to waist height, and stretching your calf muscles to encourage fluid movement.
- The UCF suggests avoiding certain foods that may irritate your bladder or increase urination, such as acidic fruits (like citrus or tomatoes), spicy foods, and chocolate. If you’re not sure which foods are to blame, Health.com recommends eliminating a specific type of food every few weeks, and monitoring your symptoms to gauge improvement. In addition, keeping a bladder diary may help you to share accurate information with your doctors, as you explore possible solutions.
- Most importantly, don’t smoke. The CDC reports that smoking is the single greatest risk factor for getting bladder cancer. Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs designed to eliminate nicotine addiction, and consider support groups for combined accountability.
During Bladder Health Month and every day, stay aware and listen to your body. SCPT encourages you to share these bladder health tips with those you love. Click here to email this blog directly to your contacts (multiple email addresses can be included), and contact SCPT with any questions today.