Since many of my patients will be hitting the roads today and a large percentage of them will be making frequent pit stops along the highway, I want to welcome Teri back. Her last article was a hit and I thought this one is particularly timely.
By Teri Elliott-Burke, PT, MHS, BCB-PMD
Bladder issues are problematic for all ages. Urinary leakage, urgency or frequency causes many problems. So everyone should be aware of basic bladder function and health. Do you have a healthy bladder? Do you know what a healthy bladder is?
The following are a few facts about healthy bladders:
- The average bladder should hold approximately 2 cups (picture a Grande Starbucks coffee cup) before it needs to be emptied.
- Urinating 5 – 7 times per day, and 0 times at night, is considered normal.
- As we age, the bladder which is a muscle, stretches less, so it may hold less and thus cause the need to urinate 8 times per day and 1 time per night. Getting up frequently at night greatly impacts our sleep, which we all need to function each day.
- Urination requires that the bladder contracts and the pelvic muscles relax. Thus, no straining or pushing should take place.
Practice good bladder habits:
- Eliminate bladder irritants. The biggest bladder irritants are caffeine (found in coffee, tea, cola, chocolate), artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and citrus foods. These substances should be eliminated or used in small amounts. Consuming these irritants can add to urine leakage, bladder urgency or frequency. One of the biggest offenders is caffeinated diet pop. Also, remember artificial sweeteners are in many foods, including some gum and low fat foods such as yogurt. Alcohol also makes it harder for your brain to coordinate bladder control.
- Drink water. Water helps to dilute your urine. Concentrated urine can be irritating to your bladder. Also drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day (unless otherwise advised by your doctor) helps to keep your bladder stretched out. It is good for bowel function as well.
- Women, sit on the toilet to urinate. It is difficult to relax the pelvic muscles when “hovering” over a toilet seat. Men, if you have trouble emptying your bladder, sitting might help.
- Relax, take a couple of deep breathes before, during or after urinating. Avoid pushing, straining or fast peeing.
- Avoid constipation, the pressure of the bowel when constipated will place undue stress on the bladder.
- Keep your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles strong.
If you feel your bladder is problematic see a physician to make sure there is not a serious issue. If no serious problems are found consider seeing a specialty trained pelvic physical therapist for a drug-free solution.
Why is a physical therapist talking about bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction?
The muscles in your pelvis are responsible for support, control of bowel and bladder functions, and sexual appreciation. While a physician evaluates the pelvic organs (for example: bladder, bowel, uterus, prostate) for problems, specially trained physical therapists evaluate the pelvic musculature for dysfunction. These muscles, like all muscles, can be tight, weak, or have tenderness. These problems affect bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunctions. Specialty trained physical therapists can be found at WoMen’s Physical Therapy Institute in Lake Zurich, IL.
Teri Elliott-Burke, PT, MHS, BCB- PMD is a physical therapist with more than 30 years of experience. She is the co-owner and treating therapist of the WoMen’s Physical Therapy Institute, located in Lake Zurich & Crystal Lake IL, www.womensphysicaltherapyinstitute.com, which specializes in treating men, women, and children with orthopedic and pelvic dysfunction. Teri is also a faculty member of the Herman and Wallace Institute and an adjunct faculty member of Midwestern University. She is also certified in biofeedback for pelvic floor muscle disorders.