The word habit is defined as "a settled or regular tendency, especially one that is hard to give up." Many habits are developed intentionally for beneficial reasons such as making healthy eating choices, engaging in a regular exercise program, or ensuring adequate hours of sleep each night. Some habits develop gradually over time without giving the action much thought.
Unfortunately, some of the toileting patterns we follow every day can lead to bladder issues in the future. Here are a few facts that can help you develop healthy bladder habits.
1. Normal Voiding is Every 2-3 Hours
This should lead to anywhere from 5-8 trips to the toilet a day. Sometimes our jobs don't always lend themselves to taking bathroom breaks but try to take a critical look at your schedule to incorporate breaks when available. Holding your urine as a regular practice over time can lead to bladder problems down the road.
2. Don't Empty Your Bladder "Just in Case"
This habit can lead to your bladder not having the opportunity to go through the full filling process. Over time what might have started as a conscious decision to void frequently even if not experiencing an urge can lead to your bladder then dictating that you go frequently and on its schedule.
3. Urination Should be Relaxed
Don't strain or bear down while urinating to speed up the process. Also hovering over the toilet or surfing the internet on your phone while on the toilet can lead to incomplete emptying. The pelvic floor muscles need to be relaxed in order for urine to be able to pass through the urethra and out of the body.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
This isn't necessarily a toileting habit but has a big impact on bladder function. A good rule of thumb for fluid intake is drinking about half your body weight in ounces per day. And much of that fluid intake should be water. Caffeine, soda, alcohol, and citrus juices are considered bladder irritants and can increase urinary urgency and frequency. Take a good look at your fluid intake and ensure you are getting adequate hydration. For some people this isn't an issue. If you aren’t sure how much fluid you are drinking, spend a day or two recording your intake in type and ounces. This can help you get a clear picture of your current habits.
5. Keep Your Bowels Regular
Constipation can also affect bladder control and urinary urgency. If your bowel is over full, it can cause pressure on the bladder and reduce the amount of urine it can hold. Ensure adequate intake of fiber, fruits, veggies, whole grains, and water to keep things moving.
Fortunately, misbehaving bladders can learn new tricks. Sometimes a few changes in our daily habits can make a big difference in our long-term bladder health. If you and your bladder aren’t exactly on the best of terms, your physical therapist at CTS can help.