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Looking After Your Bladder

The bladder is a muscle that stretches and relaxes as it fills with urine. Your bladder can store around 250 – 500mls or more, to allow you to carry out normal daily activities and have enough sleep.

When the bladder is becoming full, it sends a signal to the brain to tell you that you need to go to the toilet. On this first signal you can normally decide if it is convenient to empty your bladder, or hold on until it is convenient to go to the toilet.

Adults usually empty their bladder every 3-4 hours during the day, and it is normal to pass urine up to once at night.

But did you know that certain lifestyle choices can affect your bladder, and can lead to irritation, infection (UTI), urgency (feeling that you need to go immediately),  incontinence (not making it to the toilet in time) or frequency (having to go more often). See below for a number of tips on how to keep your bladder healthy.

Keeping hydrated: Are you drinking enough?

You should aim to have around 6-8 mugs/glasses of fluid per day to stay hydrated. Keeping hydrated can prevent or aid the treatment of constipation, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pressure ulcers and falls.

Watch what you’re drinking, did you know certain drinks (and foods) can cause bladder irritation?

Don’t cut back on fluids, but be aware of certain rinks which can irritate your bladder, these include:

  • Caffeinated drinks – try switching to decaf tea or coffee!
  • Green tea
  • Fizzy drinks and sodas, especially cola
  • Hot chocolate
  • Energy drinks
  • Acidic drinks such as grapefruit juice

And remember that the best option is always water.

Bladder retraining.

Training your bladder can help to reduce the number of times you pass urine each day and will help to lengthen the time between trips to the toilet.

Instead of rushing to the toilet as soon as you get the urge, practice “holding on”, so you don’t pass urine. To help you achieve this:

  • Try contracting your pelvic floor muscles. This helps stop the sensation of urgency and improves leaking.
  • Try standing on your tip toes or sitting down on the arm of a chair
  • Try distracting yourself e.g. Count backwards from 100 or read a magazine.

Further help?

If after making these small lifestyle changes above and you still have symptoms it may be beneficial to try medication.

Talk to your GP or Specialist continence advisor or your health care professional who will advise you about medication or other treatments.