These 5 simple measures will help to keep your bladder healthy
- Keep hydrated. It may sound simple, but the key to a healthy bladder is to stay hydrated, says Zaki Almallah, consultant urologist at Birmingham Bladder Clinic: ‘You don’t have to drink endless glasses of water – aim for 2.5 litres a day.’ Your urine should be a pale and clear colour.
- Go to the loo. When you’re busy, it’s easy to delay going to the toilet. Go at least once every three hours during the day and always go before bed. If you have less urine in the bladder overnight, there’s less chance of developing an infection.
- Cut down on caffeine. You don’t have to avoid caffeine (unless you have a bladder infection), but cutting back will boost your pelvic health. ‘Too much caffeine can irritate the bladder, while soft drinks are high in sugar, which aids bacterial growth – both recipes for a UTI,’ says Almallah. Instead, cut out fizzy drinks, and try not to have more than four cups of coffee or tea a day.’
- Up the probiotics. A strong immune system is important in keeping the lining of the urinary tract strong and bacteria free. Much of the immune system resides in the intestines, so concentrate healthy probiotic bacteria here. They produce substances that kill off yeasts, viruses and disease- causing bacteria. Try taking a probiotic supplement or eating plain live yoghurt.
- Work your pelvic floor. There are two main types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence (when the bladder sphincter gives way under pressure such as when coughing, laughing or sneezing), and urge incontinence (when the bladder tells the brain that it’s full too early). ‘The best way to prevent stress incontinence is with pelvic floor exercises,’ explains Almallah. ‘Tighten your internal muscles, as if you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing. Count to 10 while you tense, then count to 10 while you relax. Repeat this exercise 10 times and do it 10 times a day. ‘If you suffer from urge incontinence, speak to your GP about devising a plan that gradually increases the length of time you wait before peeing, so that you can develop more control.’
When to see the doctor. If you’re experiencing pain while urinating or suffering from urge incontinence, see your GP, who may recommend tests. Seek medical help at once if you’re experiencing any of the following: passing blood, excessive pain, fever, vomiting or a high temperature.