Urology and incontinence

By Mariann McKay

When you hear or see the word ‘Urology’ you may think of your bladder, your prostate or your kidneys. For some it may be a reminder of episodes in their lives they would rather forget; bladder cancer, prostate cancer, urinary incontinence, bed-wetting, infections and pain. I am reminded of my childhood and this may sound familiar to you too: The voice of a parent, “go and have a wee before we leave the house”, “the road is long and there are no toilets on the way, so make sure you empty your bladder before you get in the car”. It brings a smile to my face as I too, when my kids were younger, fell into that parental role of asking my kids to have a ‘wee’ before we left the house.

The Urology Foundation have dedicated September as Urology Awareness Month. They reported that an estimate of 1 in 2 people in the UK will be affected by a urological condition impacting the lives of men, women and children. That is a staggering amount of people! Here at HealthHarmonie, we are committed to doing our bit to get the message across, breaking down the stigmas and encouraging our community to take care of their bladders, prostates and kidneys. The myth still exists that problems with leaky bladders are just part of the ageing process; all old people smell. Over the years, I have had many women in my clinic expressing the fear of not wanting to smell like an old lady. Often, they are too embarrassed to talk about their bladder problems. The elderly can be afraid to visit their families because they fear wetting their beds and ruining the mattress. They don’t want their grandchildren seeing them in nappies. Relationships break down because of incontinence episodes. The list is long.

The function of our bladder and kidneys

The kidneys are responsible for cleaning up our blood, removing waste and excess fluid via our bladders in the form of urine. It ultimately acts as a filter, balancing salts and other substances in the blood to maintain stable blood pressure. Our bladders act as storage balloons, holding the urine until we are ready to empty them. The lining of the bladder consists of a muscle that contains nerve receptors. When the bladder gets full, nerve signals are sent to the brain to instruct the sphincter (valve) at the base of the bladder to relax and the bladder wall to squeeze to push urine out. This action should be entirely voluntary, but for some of us this is not the case and ‘oops-moments’ happen as a consequence.

1 in 2 people in the UK will be affected by a urological condition impacting the lives of men, women and children.

What can we do to keep our bladders and kidneys healthy?

It’s important that we drink at least 8 glasses or 3 pints of fluid per day and consult our GP If we have problems with renal failure and heart disease. This is so that we can ensure that we are drinking the right amount for us. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake whilst avoiding fizzy, sugary and acidic drinks will help, along with trying not to eat too much spicy and acidic food which may irritate your bladder. If you notice blood in your urine, experience pain when passing urine or go to the bathroom excessively during the day or at night, see your doctor. Passing urine 7 to 8 times per day (24hrs) is normal depending on your fluid intake.

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