The first thing to realize when it comes to bladder conditions is that they’re extremely common. There is no need to feel embarrassed, especially when seeking proper treatment makes it easy to manage them without impacting your quality of life.
- About 13 million Americans have incontinence
- 33 million Americans are dealing with Overactive Bladder (OAB)
- As many as 12 million Americans may have Interstitial Cystitis
Incontinence is the lack of control over voluntary urination or defecation. Those with urinary incontinence may experience a range of symptoms from slight urinary leakage to total emptying of the bladder.
Types of Incontinence include:
Urge Incontinence. Causes the sudden, strong urge to urinate and people may not make it to the restroom in time. This is often referred to as overactive bladder (OAB).
Stress Incontinence. Occurs when urine leaks due to weakened pelvic muscles when stress is exerted on the bladder due to activities such as laughing, coughing, or exercising.
Functional Incontinence. With this type, people are aware of the need to urinate but mental or physical conditions such as dementia or impaired mobility prevent them from getting to the restroom in time.
Overflow Incontinence. Occurs with the inability to fully empty your bladder, resulting in urine dribbles and leakage.
2. Overactive Bladder (OAB)
OAB causes the sudden urge to urinate (urge incontinence) with the sudden loss of urine along with the need to frequently urinate, 8 or more times within 24 hours. You may also be awakened multiple times during the night to use the restroom. This may be caused by weakened pelvic muscles or involuntary bladder contractions.
3. Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer occurs in the tissue of the bladder, and there are 3 main types:
Transitional Cell Carcinoma. The most common type, that forms in the transitional cells of the inner layer of the bladder. The transitional cells can change shape without being damaged as the tissue stretches.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma. A rare form of bladder cancer that begins after a long-term infection or bladder irritation that results in the formation of thin, flat squamous cells.
Adenocarcinoma. Another rare form of bladder cancer that occurs when glandular cells that make up mucus-secreting glands in the body form in the bladder after long-term bladder infection or irritation.
Symptoms of bladder cancer may include:
- Blood in urine
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Urgent urination
- Frequent urination
4. Interstitial Cystitis
Internal cystitis (IC), commonly referred to as painful bladder syndrome is a chronic condition causing bladder pressure, pain, and sometimes pelvic pain. It causes the signals that are sent from the nerves of your bladder to the brain when it’s time to urinate to get mixed up, causing the urge to urinate more often with smaller volumes. Pain may be mild to severe and symptoms may be constant or periodic due to triggered flare-ups.
Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis may include:
- Pelvic pain
- Pain between the vagina and anus for women, and between the scrotum and anus for men
- Frequent urination, up to 60 times per day
- The constant urgent need to urinate
- Pain as the bladder fills and relief after urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
5. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections are infections that can occur in any part of the urinary system, including the kidneys, bladder, uterus, and urethra. However, UTIs most often occur in the lower urinary tract and are more common in women because they have shorter urethras. This makes it easier to introduce bacteria to the urinary tract. Oftentimes UTIs are caused by wiping from back to front, bringing bacteria from the anus forward. It can also be caused by sitting in wet clothing or soiled diapers and improper hygiene practices.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) symptoms:
- A burning sensation while peeing
- The frequent urge to urinate
- Passing frequent small amounts of urine
- Urine that has an odd smell or appears dark, cloudy, or bloody
- Having a fever or chills
- Pain and pressure in the lower back or abdomen
Nocturia refers to frequent urination during the night. Waking up needing to use the restroom more than two times during the night or during 6 to 8 hours of sleep could be caused by this urinary disorder. Nocturia is more common in men and women over the age of 60 but can occur at any age due to menopause, childbirth, or an enlarged prostate. It may also be a symptom of another disorder such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome.
How to Manage Bladder Conditions
- Your bladder condition doesn’t have to rule your life. Take back control by learning easy tips to make managing urinary disorders easier.
- Contact your doctor to put a treatment plan or management plan together before your condition worsens.
- Adopt a daily exercise and stretching routine to help relieve pain and symptoms.
- Watch your diet and avoid food and beverages that may irritate the bladder such as coffee, spicy foods, sugary items, and fried fatty foods.
- Reduce stress to relax your mind and body.
- Practice timed voiding by going to the restroom every 2 to 3 hours instead of waiting for the urge to strike.
- Be prepared with enough incontinence supplies to last during the day or activity. Have protective undergarments, a change of clothes, and wipes to make quick, discreet cleanups possible.
- Receive your incontinence supplies through insurance. Stop overpaying for briefs, catheters, chux, and more. Let us help with the insurance qualification paperwork, maximizing your benefits and delivering discreetly packaged incontinence supplies to your home on a monthly basis.
Bladder Health Fun Facts
- The bladder can hold up to 500ml of urine. The inside of the bladder is lined with a layer of transitional epithelial cells with wrinkles known as rugae that help it expand to hold urine.
- We don't have to control our kidneys but do have to control the bladder by contracting and releasing pelvic muscles to hold or release urine.
- The bladder is typically about the size of a grapefruit.
- A round, muscular sphincter is located at the bottom of the bladder that pinches tight in order to prevent urine from leaking.
- The kidneys produce urine every 5 to 10 seconds.
- Nerves automatically signal that your bladder is full in advance to provide enough time to find a restroom.
- The bladder begins to signal that it's full when it's filled about 1/4th of the way.
- As the bladder expands it moves upwards to fill space in the abdominal cavity.
- It's normal to empty the bladder about 8 times a day. People who use the restroom more than that are considered to have an overactive bladder.