We take so much of our health for granted every day. Mental health, cardiovascular health, physical health (illness), and so on. So, it’s natural that most days we don’t think about our bladder health.
But next time you start drinking whatever it is in your hand, you might want to consider is it good for my bladder? Especially if you have any conditions such as incontinence or UTIs and such.
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Urinary Incontinence: A Tough Issue In Life
So, the question is: What is considered normal bladder health?
- The average bladder can hold about 2 cups of urine before it needs to be emptied.
- The normal range of voiding urine is 6 to 8 times during a 24 hour period. Usually, we should not need to void more than every two hours.
- Urine should flow easily and without discomfort in a good, steady stream until the bladder is empty. No pushing or straining should be necessary to empty the bladder.
- An urge is a signal that you feel as the bladder stretches to fill with urine. Urges can be felt even when the bladder is not full. Urges are not commands to go to the toilet, but merely a signal and can be controlled.
Good Bladder Habits
- Take your time when emptying your bladder. Don’t strain or push to empty your bladder. Make sure you empty your bladder completely each time you pass urine. Do not rush the process.
- Consistently ignoring the urge to go (waiting more than 4 hours between toileting) or urinating infrequently may be convenient, but it is not healthy for your bladder.
- Avoid going to the toilet ‘just in case’ or more often than every 2 hours. It s usually not necessary to go when you first feel the urge. Try to go only when your bladder is full. Urgency and frequency of urination can be improved by retraining the bladder and spacing your fluid intake throughout the day.
Tips to Maintain Good Bladder Habits
- Maintain good fluid intake. Depending on your body size and environment, drink 6 to 8 cups (8 ounces each) of fluid per day unless otherwise advised by your doctor. Not enough fluid causes a foul odor and dark color of the urine.
- Limit the amount of caffeine (coffee, cola, chocolate or tea) and citrus foods that you consume as these foods can be associated with increased sensation of urinary urgency and frequency.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol increases urine production and also makes it difficult for the brain to coordinate bladder control.
- Avoid constipation by maintaining a balanced diet of dietary fiber.
- Avoid cigarette smoking. It irritates the surface of the bladder, and is associated with bladder cancer. In addition, the coughing associated with smoking may lead to increased incontinent episodes.
Although there is no particular ‘diet’ that can cure problems with bladder control, there are certain dietary suggestions that you can use to help control the problem.
Avoid Foods and Fluids That Can Irritate the Bladder
- Citrus foods
- Alcoholic beverages
- Tomato based products
- Coffee (regular and decaf)
- Tea (regular and decaf)
- Any other caffeinated beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- Spicy foods
- Food colorings and flavorings
- Artificial sweeteners
- Drink Enough of the Right Kinds of Fluids
What Are the Right Kinds of Fluids?
Some foods and beverages are thought to contribute to bladder irritability and subsequent leakage. However, their effect on the bladder is not completely understood. In any case, you may want to see if eliminating one or all of these items improves your bladder control. If you are unable to give them up completely, it is recommended that you use the following items in moderation:
Water is always the best choice. However, grape and apple juice are good thirst quenchers that are less irritating to the bladder. Low acid fruits include pears, apricots, papaya, and watermelon.
Many people with bladder control issues decrease their intake of liquids in hope that they will need to urinate less frequently or have less urinary leakage. You should not restrict fluids in order to control your bladder. While a decrease in liquid intake does result in a decrease in the volume of urine, the smaller amount of urine may be more highly concentrated. Highly concentrated, dark yellow urine is irritating to the bladder surface and may actually cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently. It also encourages the growth of bacteria, which may lead to infections resulting in incontinence.
- Coffee drinkers may like KAVA, Postum, Pero, or Kaffree Roma.
- Tea drinkers may like non-citrus herbal teas, or sun brewed tea.
- Practice good toilet habits. Don’t let your bladder control your life!
This article was written by Great Moves Physical Therapy. Click here to learn more about our physical therapy services.
This article was recently updated. Original publish date was July 14, 2010.