November is “Bladder Health Month” – a good time to learn more about this vital organ and how it can affect your overall health and well-being.
The bladder is part of your urinary tract – a hollow organ in your lower belly (pelvis) that stores urine. This is the liquid waste that’s made by the kidneys. Urine flows away from each kidney through a tube called a ureter. The ureters carry the urine into your bladder.
The urine stays in your bladder until you let it pass out of your body through another tube called the urethra. You use ring-shaped muscles called sphincter muscles to control urine flow.
Over 25 million Americans suffer from some form of urinary incontinence – the inability to control urine flow. Other ailments and issues include bladder cancer and urotraumatic injuries, among others.
Common symptoms include:
- Urgency – Having the strong urge to urinate
- Frequency – Urinating more often than usual
- Nocturia – Waking to urinate
- Dysuria – Painful urination
- Nocturnal enuresis – Leaking urine while sleeping
Consider the following questions. If the answer to any is “yes,” you may be suffering from urinary incontinence:
- Do you have trouble making it to the bathroom in time?
- Do you experience dribbling or leaking of urine with sneezing, laughing, or physical activity?
- Are you getting up multiple times during the night to use the bathroom?
- Do you wear a pad, as you are concerned that you may have urine leakage?
If you or a loved one lives with these burdens, you are not alone. Millions of men and women of all ages struggle with incontinence.
There are many causes of urinary incontinence. One of the most common is pelvic floor disorder, caused by the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Weakened muscles can result from aging, other medical conditions, chronic constipation, or childbirth – even years later. Other common causes include urinary tract infections or use of diuretics.
The good news is that many people can correct these problems with a specialized therapy program – and home healthcare can help. There’s no need to live with close calls, sudden urges, or inconvenient bathroom visits. It’s easy to do in the privacy of your home, without worry about side effects.
Treatments like lifestyle changes, exercise, and medication are effective for most patients. In-home continence control programs, administered by specially trained therapists, can create individualized treatment plans. In some rare cases surgery is required.
Unfortunately, there is a certain social stigma and level of unease in discussing issues related to bladder health, and some people are still uncomfortable bringing these issues to the attention of their healthcare provider.
The good news is that this unease can be overcome with education. Knowing more leads to increased confidence and awareness as sufferers learn that they are not alone. If you or a loved one experience bladder health issues, don’t hesitate to talk with your physician.
For us, it’s all about helping people. To learn more, please visit lhcgroup.com.