Whether you are under the care of your GP, hospital urologist or currently have no urinary problems, there are some simple things that you can do to help improve your bladder health and urinary system and help keep it in the best possible condition.
Advice on keeping your bladder healthy
- Fluid intake - To help keep your bladder and urinary system healthy it is important to ensure you drink plenty of fluids: 8 - 10 mugs of assorted fluids should be sufficient.
- Frequency and urgency - To help reduce symptoms of urinary frequency and urgency. a) Try to avoid drinks containing caffeine, (in tea, coffee, chocolate and cola) fizzy drinks and alcohol. b) Try not to pass urine 'just in case’, instead, try to increase the amount of time between visits to the toilet. c) At night is best not to try and hold on as this will only keep you awake. Practising holding on in the daytime will gradually help night-time problems. d)If you have been given water tablets you must take them no matter how often they make you want to go. If this causes problems for you, discuss it with your nurse or doctor.
- Your weight - If you are overweight, try to lose a few pounds or more, as this will relieve stress on the pelvic floor.
- Be careful with your diet - too much or too little fibre is not good for you. Trying changing your diet to see what works best for you. It is very important to avoid constipation, so if eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is not enough, you can ask your practice nurse for dietary advice.
- Pelvic floor exercises – urinary leakage is a common problem for women. Occasionally it can also affect men who have had urology surgery. In both cases we recommend pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor not only as a treatment for this problem but also as a preventative measure. Our ‘pelvic floor leaflet’ provides instructions as to how to do the exercises and further information can be found through the links we have provided.
- Urinary infections - Urinary infections are quite a common problem especially in women. They are also more common for both men and women following urology surgery. It is important to be aware of the symptoms so early action can be taken. If you experience any of the following symptoms you may have a urinary infection; Burning on passing urine, Shivering attacks, Cloudy offensive smelling urine, Flu like symptoms and Backache. Contact your GP and arrange to take a urine sample into your surgery to be checked.
- Haematuria (blood in the urine) - There are many causes of blood in the urine (infection is one of them) but if this problem arises spontaneously, it needs to be investigated. Contact your GP who will test your urine and may send you to the hospital for further tests.
Blood in the urine is common after urology surgery, so there is no need to go to your GP in the first instance, if you have had a recent operation. It is usual for there to be slight bleeding for a few weeks which may increase at 14 - 21 days as a result of the healing process as scabs come away. If you are experiencing blood in the urine increase your intake of fluids both day and night until it settles. This measure will help reduce the risk of clots forming which may lead to you experiencing difficulty in passing urine. If you are concerned contact your GP or the urology nurses for advice.
Coming into hospital
If you are coming into hospital in the near future and waiting for an operation, you will receive specific information and advice about what will happen. In addition to this advice, it is important to look after your general health as this will aid your recovery and reduce the risk of complications such as deep vein thrombosis, urine, wound or chest infections.
Things that you can do to achieve the best possible general health:
- Stop smoking: If you would like help with this, contact the practice nurse at your GP surgery, or go to www.nhs.uk/smokefree.nhs.uk
- Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.
- Diet: Try to eat a well balanced diet that includes 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. If you are overweight, try to lose a few pounds before your operation. If you are underweight, you might need to build yourself up. The practice nurse at your GP surgery can give you dietary advice.
- Exercise: If you can, try to take regular exercise, as this will stimulate the circulation and promote general well-being.