The American Urological Association, along with the Urology Care Foundation and the Bladder Health Alliance, come together in November to draw upon and observe the month as the Bladder Health Month. The month of observance focuses on helping people break the stigma surrounding bladder health issues, offering necessary resources to raise awareness, and helping start a conversation between people and their healthcare providers.
Every year, millions of people in America struggle every waking moment of their lives with symptoms related to bladder health conditions and diseases.
- Over 33 million people in America have an overactive bladder. This is almost 2 out of every 10 people.
- One out of every two women over the age of 65 is impacted by stress urinary incontinence.
- Bladder cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the US
- Approximately one to four million males and three to eight million women struggle with Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome symptoms.
- Nocturia affects every one in three adults above the age of 30.
Incontinence is the overall lack of having control over your voluntary need to urinate or defecate. Those with urinary incontinence conditions might experience a varied range of symptoms, like slight urinary leakage to total emptying of their bladder.
There are different types of incontinence, like:
Urge continence causes a sudden, strong urge to urinate, with a feeling that people might not be able to make it to the nearest toilet in time. This is also referred to as having an overactive bladder (OAB).
The condition occurs when urine starts to leak because of weakened pelvic muscles when any kind of stress is exerted on them. Activities like laughing, coughing, and exercising can cause one to urinate a little every time.
In this type of incontinence condition, people are aware they need to go and urinate, but their mental or physical conditions, like impaired mobility or dementia, can prevent them from going to the nearest toilet in time.
The condition occurs with the inability of people to fully empty their bladder, which results in leakages and urine dribbles.
Overactive Bladder (OAB)
An overactive bladder causes people to have a sudden urge to urinate, with the sudden loss of urine. This often comes along with the need to urinate frequently, almost 8 or more times in a span of 24 hours. This also comes with the urge to wake up and urinate multiple times in the middle of the night. This is also caused by a weakened pelvic muscle condition along with involuntary bladder contractions.
Bladder cancer can occur in one’s bladder tissues. There are three significant kinds of bladder cancers:
Transitional Cell Carcinoma
One of the most common types of bladder cancer forms in the transitional cells of the inner layers of one’s bladder. The transitional cells can change their shapes without damaging them as the tissues stretch.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
A rare bladder cancer form that begins a long time after a person gets infected or gets bladder irritation, resulting in the formation of flat, thin squamous cells.
A rare bladder cancer that occurs when glandular cells make up the overall mucus-secreting glands on the human body in the bladder. It usually occurs after having a long-term bladder infection/irritation.
Symptoms of bladder cancer
- Blood in one’s urine
- Abdominal pain
- Urgent need to urinate
- Lower back pain
- Frequent need to urinate
Interstitial Cystitis (IC), also known as painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic condition that causes bladder pressure, pain, and pelvic pain. It causes the signals sent from your bladder nerves to the brain when it is time to actually urinate to be mixed up. This can cause the sudden urge to urinate every now and then, even though in smaller volumes. Pain can be mild to severe, and the symptoms can be constant or periodic because of the triggered flare-ups.
Symptoms of Interstitial Cystitis
- Pelvic pain
- Frequent need to urinate, sometimes even up to 60 times a day
- Pain between scrotum and anus for men and between vagina and anus for women
- Constant feeling of urge to urinate
- Pain when the bladder is filled. Relief after emptying of the bladder
- Pain during sexual intercourse
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
A Urinary Tract Infection is a type of infection that can occur in various parts of one’s urinary system, including the bladder, kidneys, uterus, and urethra. However, UTIs mostly occur in the lower urinary tract of a person and are common in women because of shorter urethras. This makes it easier for the bacteria to be introduced into one’s urinary tract. Often, UTIs can be caused due to wiping from back to front, bringing the anus’ bacteria to the front. It can also be caused by sitting in wet clothing or soiled diapers for a long time or having improper hygiene practices.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
- Burning sensation while peeing
- Frequent need to urinate
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- The odd smell from urine. Dark, cloudy, or even bloody appearance of urine
- Having fever or chills
- Pain and pressure in the lower back or one’s abdomen
Nocturia is the need to urinate frequently during the night. One can wake up multiple times during the night to use the restroom over two-three times in the night or between a span of 6-8 hours of sleep. This urinary disorder is commonly seen in men and women who are 60 and above in age. However, the disorder can also occur in people of other ages because of childbirth, menopause, or an enlarged prostate. It can also be associated with symptoms of diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure, insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome.
Managing Bladder Conditions
One’s bladder condition should not rule their life. Bladder Health Month aims not to let people feel discouraged to live their lives because of such disorders. The month aims to let people be free from all kinds of fears and help them manage their urinary disorders easily. Take back control of your life by learning a few easy tips to manage your urinary health this bladder health month!
- You should contact your doctor and put a plan of action or treatment plan together, specifically to suit your needs before the condition worsens.
- Adopt healthy daily exercises and stretching routines to relieve any form of symptoms and pain.
- Manage your diet and switch to healthy food items. Avoid foods and beverages that can irritate your bladder, like spicy foods, sugary items, coffee, or even fried fatty food.
- Reduce overall stress in your life to relax your body and your mind
- Practice some time voiding by using the toilet every 2-3 hours instead of waiting for the urges to strike
- Be prepared with enough supplies for any incontinence during the day. You should have access to protective undergarments, wipes, a change of clothes, and discreet cleanup locations at all times.
- Only get your incontinence supplies through the right sources, fully insured. Avoid overpaying for briefs, chux, catheters, and other items on a monthly basis.
Every single day, millions of Americans struggle with the impacts of bladder health conditions and diseases like an overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, underactive bladder, interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, nocturia, neurogenic bladder, or urotrauma. All of these together can impact an individual’s health, their quality of life and can result in a significant increase in healthcare costs.
Bladder Health Month is the perfect way to focus on connecting, educating, and empowering everyone to go ahead and take control of their bladder health. Most people in the country are still not ready to have a conversation with their healthcare provider regarding their bladder health and related symptoms because they are too embarrassed to talk about them. However, severe bladder conditions can be treated through lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, and behavior modifications.
Being aware of bladder health conditions is integral to reducing any associated stigma with incontinence and other bladder health symptoms and conditions.
Take your first step forward, take control of your bladder health this November, the Bladder Health Month!