bladder

The Bladder

Our bodies absorb fluids every time we eat or drink. Your kidneys filter out the waste and creates urine, which is stored temporarily in the bladder.

The Bladder is surrounded by the detrusor muscle. As a bladder fills up, the detrusor muscle stretches. When the bladder is about half-full, nerves send signals to the brain to tell us we feel the need to urinate.

Most of the time, we can hold on for much longer.
When ready, the detrusor muscle will tighten and squeeze, or contract the bladder so that urine comes out. Simultaneously, the support muscles around the urethra relax and allow urine to pass through.

Bladder Problems:

Bladder problems are medical conditions that stop you from being able to control this process. It's not just an inevitable part of getting older, in fact, most bladder problems can be treated.

Here's a list of some known issues that may help you understand what you are feeling:

Overactive Bladder

An unstable, or irritable bladder could lead to your bladder being overactive. This is when the detrusor muscle squeezes when your bladder is not full, or you are not ready.

Reflex Bladder

This is when you do not have any control of your bladder. You may not feel when it is full and may frequently wet yourself. This may have this all your life, or after an injury or illness.

Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence is when you feel a sudden urge to use the toilet but do not get there in time.

Frequency

Frequency is when you feel like you have to go to the toilet several times a day.

Nocturia

Nocturia is when you feel the need to urinate during the night.

Nocturia Enuresis

Nocturia Enuresis is the medical term for wetting the bed.

Other Conditions

Sometimes you may have symptoms of a bladder control problem, but actually have an Urinary Tract Infection. Usually you experience one of the above conditions, but also have a burning sensation when you urinate. The above symptoms can also have started rapidly. Enlarged prostate is another example. Neither are bladder problems.

Causes

It's difficult to tell what can cause an overactive bladder. There are a few things that can irritate it or make things worse:

  • Caffiene & Alcohol
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Prostate Problems
  • Nervous System (Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's)

Often, people with Overactive bladder problems never find a reason why. This can be good news to know that there are no other health problems causing it.

Treatment

Contact you doctor or nurse. They can also help you identify a local continence advisor or specialist. You will probably be asked the following questions, so you may want to consider these before going;

  • How often do you go to the toilet?
  • How often do you leak urine?
  • When do you leak mostly?
  • Are you on any medications?
  • What do you usually eat or drink?
  • Do you have any pain or discomfort when urinating?
  • How many times do you get up at night?
  • Do you ever wet the bed?

Once you have diagnosed what is causing your bladder to be overactive, you can work out a treatment plan with your doctor.

What to Drink

It's important to drink healthily. It is recommended that we drink six cups or glasses of liquid every day (about 1.5litres). If you are not used to this routine, then gradually increase your intake.

Drink Plenty of:

  • Water
  • Fruit juices
  • Herbal tea
  • Cranberry juice (except if you have diabetes)

Try to avoid drinking too much:

  • Alcohol
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Cola
  • Fizzy drinks

Retraining your Bladder

If you are in the habit of going to the toilet too often, you may be able to 'retrain' your bladder by trying to lengthen the time in-between visits. By going too often, the bladder can shrink and make the problem worse. This will take time and determination, but could possibly be successful for you.

Keep a record for at least 3 days of how frequently you urinate. Gradually increase the time between visits when you feel the urge – even if it is just for a few minutes. The urge can disappear if you hold on after your first feel you need to go. By following this method, the bladder muscle will slowly stretch and become more used to holding urine.

There are also some medicines, such as anti-cholinergic drugs, that you can talk to your doctor about while retraining.