Bladder health is one of those things we take for granted until there is an issue. We expect our bladder to function properly, and as soon as it doesn’t, it can throw a real wrench in the fan. Just like you care for any other part of your body, a little extra effort towards supporting your bladder can go a long way.
These five tips can help you support your bladder health in general. If you’re having a specific issue, be sure to check with your physician, or a urologist at Virginia Urology, to get a personalized recommendation.
Y’all – water is important. Unless you’ve been instructed otherwise by your doctor, the rule of thumb is to drink six to eight glasses of water daily. This helps flush bacteria out of the urinary tract, and can help prevent bladder and kidney stones. If you’re drinking lots of soda, coffee, or alcohol throughout the day, keep in mind that those beverages can be irritating to the bladder. While you don’t necessarily have to ax your beloved cup of joe, if you’re having issues with your bladder, swapping common bladder irritants like coffee and alcohol for water may be advised by your doctor.
If you’re not moving, walking, and engaging your body throughout the day, it’s time to start. Something as simple as walking daily can help keep your weight in check which can reduce strain on your bladder. In addition, exercise can help reduce fluid retention which can cause you to wake up to urinate in the night. (1) If you’re not already active, start slow. A family walk after dinner, or heading outside for a stroll during your lunch break can help you move in the right direction.
Empty your bladder.
When you need to urinate, don’t hold it! You should be emptying your bladder at least every few hours to avoid strain on your bladder muscles. And when you make it to the restroom, make sure to take your time so that you can completely empty your bladder. When you stop urinating before your bladder is empty, this can increase the risk for urinary tract infections. Similarly, emptying your bladder after sexual intercourse is a good practice to implement to make sure that you flush bacteria out of the urinary tract.(2)
If you’ve had issues with your bladder, talk to your physician about a diet that can support your lifestyle goals. Certain foods and beverages are known to irritate the bladder including alcohol, coffee, citrus, acidic foods, spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners.(3) As a rule, it’s recommended to opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, bread, nuts, and eggs.(3) A healthful diet can also promote a healthy weight which reduces strain on the bladder muscles.
If you’re dealing with urinary leakage, pelvic floor exercises (known as Kegel exercises) can help combat the issue. The pelvic floor muscles are what your body utilizes to hold in urine, and strengthening them helps your bladder to function properly. If you’re not sure how to correctly perform Kegel exercises, a licensed pelvic floor physical therapist (like the two we have on staff at Virginia Urology) can help you use them effectively.
Bladder health matters. If you’re dealing with an overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections or nocturia – discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Something as simple as diet or lifestyle changes may be able to get your symptoms in check.