Maintaining good toilet habits is something none of us even think about. However, it is vital for preventing unpleasant problems.
Small things such as delaying toilet visits can severely damage the bladder. This habit is a common cause of incontinence in children in particular. They tend to put off going to the toilet when needed, which can cause irritation. Experts recommend only visiting the toilet when your bladder is completely full. It is important to visit the toilet when you feel the urge to pass a bowel motion, as hanging on can lead to constipation. You should actually aim to visit the toilet at least every 3 to 4 hours. Holding urine for too long in your bladder makes a bladder infection much more likely. Specialist Michael Arranda explains this link, “once you decide you’re too busy to pee, the cylindrical sphincters in your bladder close up tightly to keep all of the urine from leaking through your urethra. They are great at what you do, until you make them do it consistently for a long time. If you do this frequently, you subject yourself to a higher risk of infection”.
Are you struggling to manage urinary incontinence? Read about the effectiveness of bladder training for incontinence.
Your overall diet also has an impact on your bladder health. Research has shown that keeping a high-fibre diet helps prevent bladder problems. Total dietary fibre intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food. Consuming the correct amount of fibre can prevent constipation, which increases your risk of incontinence. The bladder and colon are in fairly close proximity, so being constipated puts pressure on your bladder. Good sources of fibre are whole grain bread, cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, beans and peas. There are also certain foods that have been proven to be particularly bad for bladder health, setting off health problems. Caffeine, for example, is a diuretic and causes frequent urges to urinate. Studies show that even reducing caffeine intake to less than 100 milligrams a day can reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence. Caffeine is present in chocolate, coffee and many fizzy drinks.
Smoking is a surprising, common cause of bladder problems. Often known as the “smoker’s cough”, a chronic cough that develops from long term smoking is a main culprit. A theory postulated by Bump and McClish concluded that chronic coughing can actually cause anatomic and pressure changes in the continence mechanism. A chronic cough gradually weakens the pelvic floor, overtime contributing to the onset of incontinence. As the pelvic floor muscles are placed under a lot of stress, they eventually fail to prevent unwanted leakage. The common type of incontinence triggered by this chronic cough is stress incontinence, in which leakages are caused by pressure being placed on the bladder. The American Urological Association Healthcare Provider Pocket Guide claims “smoking cessation is critical in reducing chronic cough, resulting in pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.” Another unexpected culprit to bladder problems is wearing clothing that is too tight or uncomfortable. Recently, experts warned that uncomfortable, tight-fitting jeans can cause bladder weakness and long-term problems. A study by TENA Men revealed that 10% of men have experienced an unpleasant side-effect due to wearing skinny jeans. TENA Ambassador Dr Hilary Jones asserts, “men who wear tight or ill-fitting trousers that are restrictive round the groin area could be damaging their health”.
Frequent physical activity is also known to encourage good bladder health. It helps to prevent constipation, which is common in those who are immobile. Physical activity also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is beneficial in preventing incontinence. Being overweight can put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which causes them to weaken overtime. Dr. Cindy Amundsen of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina states, “By reducing weight and abdominal fat there is less pressure on the bladder resulting in less stress urinary incontinence.” She claims, “better muscle strength may be associated with higher pelvic floor muscle strength and function, decreasing the susceptibility to urine leakage”. Ultimately, the less stress you place on the bladder, the less likely you are to develop incontinence. It is also been shown that being a healthy weight can reduce symptoms in those who are incontinent.
Staying proactive with your health is vital to maintain good bladder health. If you do experience infection, it should be treated quickly and promptly. Urinary tract infections can severely irritate the bladder lining. You should immediately seek treatment if you any symptoms, as the longer you wait, the worse it can get. When a UTI spreads to the kidneys, it can cause a range of unpleasant side effects. These include chills and shaking, night sweats, feeling tired, fever and nausea and vomiting. If you do have signs of a bladder problem or UTI, ensure you talk to your healthcare provider. Read our advice on talking to a Urologist. You should also be aware of signs of bladder cancer, which include the following symptoms:
- Blood clots in the urine
- Burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination
- Having to urinate during the night (Nocturnal Enuresis)
- Lower back pain on one side of the body
- Unexplained pain
You should also look out for signs of incontinence, such as having an accident before reaching the bathroom. Keeping a bladder diary can be useful, which involves writing down the food and drink you consumed before having an accident. You can read about keeping a bladder diary here.
Taking proactive care of your bladder also requires using the recommended problems if you experience leakage. Feel free to browse our full range of incontinence products to find a suitable option for you.