Your bladder is storing those drinks like a plastic bag in a box of wine before reaching capacity and hitting the “release” button. The contents might be all gone tomorrow, but reminders of their temporary residence could linger well into 2019.
Women are especially prone to urinary tract infections, which can also involve the bladder. One way to reduce your risk is to make sure that you urinate completely, says Gopal Badlani, MD, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. and a specialist in bladder issues. If you tighten your muscles to stop urinating too soon, the urine that didn’t quite escape will head back to your bladder, which can bring bacteria into your system.
Drinking plenty of water — about six to eight glasses daily — can flush bacteria out of your urinary tract and help prevent bladder infections. However, many people drink more than that these days, since they’ve heard that drinking water frequently is healthy, Dr. Badlani says. If you’re bothered by a constant need to empty your bladder and you’re drinking fluids throughout the day, cut back on your intake. Also, avoid caffeinated sodas and coffee — they’ll only make you urinate more.
Some people, like those who are sedentary or have heart disease, may develop fluid build-up in their legs during the day. At night, this fluid causes them to need to empty their bladders frequently. If you have fluid retention in your legs that’s causing an active bladder overnight, try walking around more throughout the day. If you can’t walk, flex your calf muscles and raise your legs to waist level. Ask your doctor for more tips.
Every year, more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer. Using tobacco is a major risk factor, Badlani warns: Cigarette smokers have a two to three times higher risk of bladder cancer than nonsmokers. If you’re still smoking or using other forms of tobacco, it’s important to stop for bladder health and other reasons as well. Talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking.
Kegel exercises are done to strengthen the muscles that allow for better bladder control. Weak muscles can contribute to urine leakage, called urinary incontinence. Most people, however, do Kegels the wrong way, Badlani says. If you’re having bladder control issues, talk to your doctor or a specialist who can teach you how to properly do these exercises.
If you feel that you’re urinating too often, keep a bladder diary of how often you visit the restroom and how often you’re drinking throughout the day, Badlani suggests. Also, keeping this diary if you have episodes of urinary incontinence will help show you and your doctor what factors might be involved in the problem.