We may be aware of the importance of changes in our bowels which could lead to health issues. But bladder issues? They're just as important so sit up and take notice!
1. Pain on urination
Passing water should not be uncomfortable! Any pain with urine is a sign that something is wrong. Usually this is a sign of infection: most likely a bladder infection (cystitis) or a kidney infection which causes a burning sensation when passing urine. This may also include pain in te lower tummy or the lower back where the kidneys are. Always seek medical advice for prompt treatment.During the menopause women can often feel symptoms of a urine infection but testing shows there is actually no infection. This is a troublesome condition called atrophic urethritis, caused by the lack of oestrogen around the urethral and vulval areas. If this is persistent, women may be advised to use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) either as a cream or tablets.
2. Urinating too much
Passing too much urine is not just inconvenient, it can also be significant as a symptom. If you are passing a tiny amount of urine very often, up to every 30 minutes in some cases, this is usually a sign of a urine tract infection. There are many reasons that you may pass normal amounts of urine frequently too. For some, it is simply a case of drinking too much, particularly when you are consuming caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee, which are diuretics and cause the body to pass water. Certain medications, such as those used for blood pressure, may also act as diuretics and cause frequent urination. What's more, the need to urinate often, along with a significant thirst, can sometimes be the first signs of diabetes. Overactive bladder syndrome causes a number of bladder issues such as the need to urinate often.
That sudden and overwhelming feeling that you must find a loo straight away is called bladder urgency. It can be a temporary symptom when you have a urinary infection. However, for many women who experience some form of incontinence, the urge can be a more permanent side effect. Usually the cause is an overactive bladder. The bladder controls the storage and passing of water using muscles known as the detrusor muscles. Sometimes these muscles are more sensitive and so send signals to the brain to urinate even when the bladder is not full. This can occur after the menopause and is often exacerbated by stress and diuretic drinks such as alcohol and coffee.
For most women though we don't know why it occurs. Thankfully, there is help available for urgency in the form of bladder retraining exercises and medication, both of which can be very effective.
Unexpected leaks from bladder weakness are exceedingly common and estimated to affect between 3 and 6 million people in the UK. For some, leaking can occur when you just can't get to the loo in time.Leaks can also occur when there is uncontrolled passing of urine, due to pressure on the abdomen, and this is known as stress incontinence.I see this type of incontinence in women who have suffered damage to their pelvic floor from pregnancy and childbirth. They may then pass some urine when sneezing or coughing, when abdominal pressure is temporarily increased
This is because the muscles controlling the pelvic floor, also control the passing of water. If they are weakened they then can't cope with any pressure on the bladder. Leaking can also be a symptom of ongoing constipation or a womb prolapse so it is always worth seeking medical advice.
5. Blood in urine
It is never normal to have blood in your urine so always consult a doctor. Often, blood in the urine is caused by an infection of the urinary system or bladder, like cystitis. This is accompanied by pain when you urinate and should clear up once the infection is treated.Similarly, if you have kidney stones, you will experience pain and blood when you pass urine. Passing blood with no pain is an important symptom and one doctors would call a 'red flag'.
This can be a sign of bladder cancer and must always be urgently checked out with your doctor.