The bladder’s role in the human body is far from glamorous. It is an integral part of the urinary system. This organ is tasked with storing urine as well as enabling controlled and infrequent urination. It’s a function that doesn’t get much appreciation. After all, plenty of adults don’t exactly have memories of when they were still potty training and actively learning how to master their bladder control. How good the bladder is at carrying out its task only becomes apparent when people start experiencing urinary incontinence and losing control of what many deem to be a basic human function.
Incontinence: More of a Symptom than a Disease in Itself
Incontinence is often a tell-tale sign that something is wrong with a person’s urinary system. Often thought to be an embarrassing condition, it’s actually quite common and can manifest in a variety of ways. Occasionally leaking urine when coughing or sneezing is a form of urinary incontinence. As well, not making it to the toilet after experiencing a strong need to pee is an example of incontinence. This condition can be caused by medical problems, infections, physical issues, stress, or even the intake of substances like alcohol, caffeine, or specific medications.
Of course, there are uncontrollable factors that can contribute to urinary incontinence, such as pregnancy, ageing, and hormonal changes. However, there are practices that one can adopt to ensure that their bladder is in the best possible condition. As such, the bladder can fulfill its function for as long as possible. These are the following:
Use the Toilet Whenever the Need Arises
Making a habit of holding in your urine for a long period of time does not do any favors to your bladder. The organ can hold as many as 4 cups of pee. This means that storing more than this volume can cause the bladder to expand beyond its normal capacity. In effect, it can lead to the weakening of the bladder’s muscles, an issue that may lead to infection and incontinence. If you feel the need to urinate, don’t delay. Instead, immediately start looking for a toilet so you can pee in comfort and privacy.
Make an Effort to Train Your Bladder
Incontinence can sometimes be caused by an overactive bladder. This is characterized by the strong need to urinate many times throughout the day and night. This can happen when the bladder sends a signal to the brain that it is full even though it’s not. It prompts you to urinate more frequently.
Such a situation can be addressed by training your bladder. This can be done by taking note of how much time passes before you need to urinate. Then, try extending that time by 15 minutes each day until the frequency becomes more reasonable. The practice will help increase your level of control over your bladder.
Exercise and Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can also help you gain better control of your urination habits. Doing Kegels or pelvic floor exercises can help reduce the chances of experiencing incontinence triggered by everyday activities such as sneezing, coughing, walking, running, or lifting.
Kegel exercises can be done by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. It is as if you are stopping the stream of your urine for a few seconds. You can do this while peeing or even if you’re just sitting, standing, or lying down. Doing pelvic floor exercises can also give you better control of the muscles that support your bladder.
Wear Loose-Fitting and Breathable Underwear
Tight-fitting underwear and pants can trap moisture and prevent the urethra from drying. This creates a moist environment that promotes bacterial growth. It also poses a greater risk for the development of urinary tract infection or yeast infection. Because of this, it’s much better to wear loose-fitting cotton underwear that promotes air circulation and has moisture-wicking properties.
Drink Enough Fluids and Limit Alcohol and Caffeine
Drinking enough water is also a basic step in taking care of your body, including your bladder. Over half of the body is made of water. People need to replenish their fluids regularly to ensure that the body is functioning as it should.
How much water you should drink per day depends on a number of factors. It includes your size, your regular activities, and the environmental conditions in your area. Take note, though, that certain conditions can make drinking too much water dangerous to one’s health. If you have such an issue, be sure to consult your doctor about your daily fluid intake. Also, limit the intake of alcohol and caffeine, as these can worsen existing bladder problems.
Carry Out Basic Hygiene Practices
It’s important to wipe from front to back after cleaning yourself up when using the toilet, especially for women. Peeing after sex is also a must. It helps flush out bacteria that may have moved from the bowel or vaginal opening to the urethra. Making a habit of this can help one avoid urinary tract infections.
Know What Your Medications Do and When to Consult a Doctor
Certain medications can affect bladder functions. These can include drugs for controlling high blood pressure, heart medication, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and antihistamines. Understanding how they affect your body can help you become more cognizant of the state of your bladder. As such, before taking any medicines, be sure to consult your doctor. Tell them of the other medications that you are already consuming so that they can give you advice on the best course of action.
Make a habit of these practices to take better care of your bladder, as well as the other components of your urinary system. If everything is functioning well down there, you’ll have an easier time regaining your confidence and following through on your everyday activities. You can do this without worrying about health issues that may be causing uncontrolled leaks and infections.