Your bladder is one of the major organs in your body, and it probably is not one you think about very often. But more than likely when you do think about it, it's about the only thing you have on your mind; suddenly you are rushing around looking to find a rest room for the purpose of putting a stop to that loud alarm going off inside of you. Urinating is a highly personal affair, and when the time comes for it to be relieved, you want to be ready. Even more importantly than that, you want your bladder to be healthy, and this is as good a time as any to think about that, as November is Healthy Bladder Month. Your bladder deserves your TLC at all times because it is charged with the important responsibility of helping your body to flush out liquid waste, an ongoing process that can take place many times a day. Adults, on average, pass a quart and a half of urine a day, per activebeat.com. Therefore, maintaining urinary system health is important for sure.
An Aging Bladder Presents New ChallengesAs you get older, your bladder ages right along with you. It's very much a dynamic organ that undergoes changes, mostly in the sense that it becomes more active, translating into more trips on a daily basis to the rest room. It can actually become an annoyance; one moment you are seated in a public place enjoying a chat with a friend or colleague, then all of a sudden your alarm goes off, compelling you to sprint to a rest room post haste. Worse yet, you could be on a long road trip, still several miles away from an exit where facilities equipped to accommodate you await.
Ways to Keep Your Bladder HealthyYou want to not only be ready to empty your bladder when the bell rings, you want to keep it healthy because certain problems affecting your bladder can only make matters worse in the forms of painful urination or urine leakage at unwanted times, per everydayhealth.com (as if there ever is a wanted time where you want to have urine leakage). Following are some do's and don'ts in regard to maintaining or guarding your bladder's health, although if you are experiencing urination issues or something painful that's never been painful before, you need to see your physician (as we say, post haste).
- Empty your bladder completely. If you tighten your muscles to stop your urination flow before it's all out – like if you are in a big hurry (really?) – the excess urine still in your body could flow back into your bladder, bringing with it unwanted bacteria.
- Drink plenty of fluids (but in moderation). The bulk of that should be water, for its effectiveness is second to none in cleaning bacteria from your urinary tract to help thwart bladder infections.
- Steer clear of tobacco use. Tobacco use, as in smoking, has been reported to be a major risk factor for bladder cancer, per everydayhealth.com.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Remember, bladder health in large part involves keeping the bladder free from harmful bacteria; drinking alcohol in excess can damage the liver and in turn hinder your body's elimination of toxins, which could find their way to your bladder. As for caffeine, it acts as a diuretic, which means the body can flush out too much fluid, leaving you dehydrated, and that's not helpful to bladder health either, per activebeat.com.
- Drink cranberry juice . . . regularly. Cranberry juice is well-known for keeping the bladder protected against infection. The berry contains ingredients that might prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract's walls, per everydayhealth.com.
- Steer clear of constipation (as best you can). Consume plenty of high-fiber foods (such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), drink lots of water, and stay physically active.
- Exercise regularly. Proper exercise or even just physical activity in general has been shown to help prevent bladder problems as well as ward off constipation. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which in itself is a factor when it comes to bladder health.
- Perform pelvic floor muscle exercises. Also known as Kegel exercises, these help hold urine in the bladder. Strengthening these muscles will help prevent urine leakage when you sneeze, cough, laugh, etc., per National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Urinate after sex. Obviously, before sex, too, if you have to go. You especially want to do this after sex to help flush away bacteria that might have entered during intercourse.
- Dress comfortably and wisely. Start with cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes, per National Institutes of Health (NIH). This allows air to get in and keep the region around the urethra dry. Skinny jeans and nylon underwear can trap moisture, promoting growth of bacteria.