Going to the bathroom when nature calls can be a nuisance when we’re busy or nowhere near the facilities, but it’s important. You have likely heard the same advice from a doctor, friends, and family, but do you really know what it’s all about?
The harm of holding in your pee isn’t usually discussed, but let’s look at what exactly you’re doing to your body when you decide to skip the restroom.
An average bladder can hold about 15 ounces of liquid – the eight glasses you’re supposed to drink is about 64 ounces a day. Although there’s not much research with regards to how long a person should hold their urine in for, it has been estimated that it can vary between three to six hours. The time frame is dependent on how much liquid you’re consuming and how functional your bladder is.
When your bladder reaches its capacity, it sends a signal to the brain, prompting you to go to the bathroom. If you keep ignoring this prompt, you may lose it over time. That’s a problem because you need that signal to keep your bladder healthy.
Other issues concerning the bladder are urinary incontinence and an overactive bladder, which makes you feel you need to go often and urgently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 50 percent of Americans over 65 have trouble with incontinence, and 33 million Americans have been diagnosed with overactive bladder.
Holding in your urine not only causes discomfort and possible pain, but other serious issues come along too.
What Happens When You Hold Your Pee?
When you hold your urine, you’re allowing bacteria to develop, which can cause an infection. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) most commonly affect women, but men are also at risk. UTIs are usually treated with antibiotics, but if they develop further or are not treated, the infection can move to the kidneys – potentially causing permanent damage or chronic kidney infections. They can become reoccurring, leaving you with a lot of discomfort.
UTIs become more complicated in seniors and are often misdiagnosed due to being confused with dementia or Alzheimer’s. This is because when bacteria in the urine spread into the bloodstream, it causes the symptoms of confusion and other cognitive difficulties.
In fact, as Nursing magazine reports, 30 to 40 percent of seniors don’t exhibit typical symptoms of a UTI because of aging, so the condition is misdiagnosed. If a senior starts to exhibit changes in their cognitive thinking, doctors should also be looking for symptoms associated with a UTI.
Another concern is for those who claim they do not need to go, or rarely go, throughout the day. This could mean dehydration, and a lack of fluid in the body is just as harmful as holding in a full bladder. Aim for drinking about eight glasses a day for bladder health.
It is not just fluid that gets released with urination. Dead blood cells, chemicals, and what you ingest also get released when you pee. So, consider your restroom break a way for your body to cleanse itself of toxins and excess chemicals you don’t need. When you stay hydrated, your body can flush out these chemicals much easier than when you are dehydrated.
Wearing “breathable” – preferably cotton – underwear and changing urinary pads (if you need to use them) regularly will also help you keep your bladder and urinary tract in good form.
Do not forget about the wiping protocol! Women should wipe front to back to avoid bacteria from entering the body. Urinate after sex to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Also, remember to check for changes in your bathroom habits. If you are starting to go more frequently, notice that the color of your urine is different, or feel you are not emptying your bladder completely, seek medical attention immediately. You do not want to create a long-term problem.
Pee Holding Techniques to Adopt
If you have held your urination in the past and are now noticing signs of frequent urination, the trick is learning healthy ways to hold it in.
If you frequently feel the urge to urinate, distraction techniques could help. Distraction is one of the most popular methods for dealing with the urge to urinate. This could mean indulging in a distracting activity like reading or playing games, which can help draw your attention away from the need to urinate.
It also helps to immerse yourself in distracting conversations or activities that require concentration and focus. Regularly practicing these techniques and behaviors can relieve the stress placed on your bladder, helping you resume normal activities without worry.
Shift Your Position
Leaning slightly forward can take pressure away from your stomach and bladder and help decrease the feeling that you need to urinate. Should this change of position not produce any results, it is best to experiment with different postures until you can find one that works best for you.
By taking numerous positions into account, you’ll be able to manage urination more easily and improve urinary comfort.
People with overactive bladder benefit greatly from scheduling their urination times. By setting a natural rhythm, those suffering may be able to gain better control over their overactive bladders. Scheduling urination times and sticking to that routine helps promote a feeling of predictability and consistency, which is much needed for those with overactive bladders.
Medical professionals have proven this method of management over the years with great effectiveness in improving bladder control, thereby allowing individuals to live more comfortably with overactive bladder issues.
People with overactive bladder should attempt to delay urinating when they feel the urge arise, although it may not always be possible. This can be done by rising to your feet and gently squeezing muscles in the lower abdomen. It helps to distract the brain and may reduce the urge.
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or muscle relaxation exercises, can also decrease bladder sensation and help reduce urgency. Ultimately, delaying urination when possible over time, can strengthen pelvic muscles and improve bladder control.
For those with an overactive bladder, kegel contractions may be an effective way to manage the symptoms. The kegel exercise consists of tightening and releasing the group of muscles around the pelvic area to strengthen them, wherein over time, they become more resistant and controllable.
Kegels are also beneficial beyond overactive bladders as they help reduce urinary incontinence issues, prevent pelvic organ prolapse in women, and even improve sexual performance for both men and women. Regular kegels can be done anywhere; one simply has to locate their PC muscle by stopping the flow of urine and should focus on contracting that muscle before doing regular kegels.
Suffering from an overactive bladder can be a difficult and often embarrassing experience. One way to help manage this condition is called double-voiding. This technique involves quickly urinating twice, usually with a brief period in between, so your bladder can entirely empty.
To be most effective, it’s recommended for those with overactive bladder to double-void before bedtime so that frequent trips to the restroom do not disrupt the night. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether this technique is suitable for you and what else you can do to achieve maximum bladder control.
Lifestyle Changes for Urinary Incontinence
Smoking has been linked to overactive bladder (OAB) and the worseness of its symptoms. Even a single cigarette can make OAB symptoms more severe, dramatically increasing urge frequency and urgency over time.
In some cases, coughing fits accompanying smoking have been found to cause further unwanted leaking in individuals with OAB conditions. Quitting smoking is therefore an essential step for those dealing with this issue, as it will help reduce their overall symptoms over time.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Overactive Bladder Syndrome affects millions of people worldwide, and having too much body weight can add to its discomfort. Studies have shown that being overweight may worsen the symptoms of OAB over time. Excess body weight puts pressure on a person’s bladder, causing frequent urination, urge incontinence, and, in some cases, significant distress.
Therefore, it is important for those who are overweight to consider the possible health risks associated with their condition, particularly if they are also suffering from OAB. Taking action in order to keep body weight within a healthy range can help minimize the severity of these conditions over time.
Be Thoughtful about Fluid Intake
While it’s important to stay hydrated by consuming sufficient fluids, overconsumption can trigger an overactive bladder. It’s recommended to have eight 8-ounce servings of non-alcoholic drinks that contain no caffeine over the course of a day.
However, it is also advised to stick with plain water and monitor your tea, coffee, and soda intake, as these drinks are diuretics and can affect the overactive bladder’s symptoms. Make sure to spread beverage consumption throughout the day instead of drinking large quantities at once to minimize overactive bladder discomfort.
Adjust What You Drink and Eat
If you have an overactive bladder, it is essential to pay attention to the foods and drinks you consume on a regular basis. Certain items can worsen symptoms of an overactive bladder like caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, and carbonated beverages; avoiding or reducing your intake of these can be beneficial in managing an overactive bladder.
Additionally, strategies such as incorporating more fluids into your diet and eating smaller meals over the course of the day can also help alleviate overactive bladder issues. Taking charge of your dietary habits and treatments prescribed by your doctor may help relieve symptoms caused by overactive bladder.
Work Out Your Pelvic Muscles
Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) may be able to help you regain control over your bladder. This form of therapy involves performing simple exercises that are designed to strengthen the muscles around your bladder. PFMT is often used on its own or combined with other treatments like electrical stimulation to manage urinary incontinence effectively. There is much to gain and little to lose; consider investing some time into PFMT if you are looking for a drug-free way to treat overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.
Share on Pinterest
The next time you are starting to feel the urge to use the bathroom, follow that cue, and protect your bladder.