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  • Janette O'toole

Is it OK to pee just-in-case?? Healthy bladder tips

Up to 4.8 million Australian experience bladder problems. This is more than the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and epilepsy combined. Although usually not life threatening, bladder problems can have an enormous impact on someone’s quality of life.

Men and women, young and old can be affected. The bladder does not discriminate. Despite being so common, bladder difficulties are still not as openly talked about and many people suffering from bladder problems don’t get the help they need.

How does the bladder work?

The bladder is a storage organ that sits within your pelvis. Urine is made by your kidneys and is stored in your bladder. Nerves carry messages from the bladder to your brain to tell it when the bladder is beginning to feel full. In response, your brain will let you know that you need to consider going to the toilet and at the same time it will tell the muscles to remain closed until you get there.

When you decide to go to the toilet your bladder outlet muscles (urethral sphincter and pelvic floor) relax and your bladder contracts (squeezes)

emptying your bladder of urine.

What are the signs of a healthy bladder?

A healthy bladder:

- empties every 3-4 hours (4-8 times each day) depending on how much you drink

- holds up to 400 - 600ml of urine

- will first tell you that you may need to go when it is about half full (200 - 300ml)

- may wake you up once at night or twice if you are over 65 years old

- tells you when it is full but gives you enough time to find a toilet - empties completely each time you pass urine

- does not leak

Good toilet habits

- empty the bladder 4-7 times a day

- avoid getting into the habit of going ‘just in case’

- in women- it is important to sit down on the toilet and not ‘hover’

- take your time to empty the bladder. Relax. Don’t strain.

- drink at least 1.5L of fluid per day, and more in hot weather or when you are exercising. Fluid counts as everything you drink, but water is best.

- reduce things which may ‘irritate’ your bladder. This includes any caffeinated drinks (such as tea, coffee, cola), alcohol and fizzy drinks Drinks containing artificial sweeteners can also irritate the bladder.

- keep a healthy weight

- avoid constipation, eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and dietary fibre

- practice pelvic floor exercises

If you have any specific concerns or are experiencing any bladder symptoms, such as urinary frequency, urgency, waking up several times a night needing to void, incontinence or difficulty emptying your bladder, a pelvic floor physiotherapist may help you with this. This is a physiotherapist who has undertaken specialised training in this area and is able to provide specific advice to help you. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can also assess your pelvic floor and may give you exercises which can help with this problem.

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