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Bladder Control: What Women Need to Know

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on August 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

Did you know urine leakage is a common problem for women of all ages?

But urine leakage doesn’t have to be an unavoidable part of a woman’s life. Bladder control problems can be treated.

Who is likely to have bladder control problems?

About half of adult women say they have had urine leakage at one time or another. Many women say the problem occurs daily.

Often women leak urine when they are pregnant or after they have given birth.

Women who have stopped having their periods-menopause-often report bladder control problems.

Many women leak urine when they exercise, laugh hard, cough, or sneeze.

What causes bladder control problems in women?

Urine leakage has many possible causes.

  • Weak muscles. Most bladder control problems are caused by weak pelvic muscles-the muscles that hold the bladder in place. These muscles may become stretched and weak during pregnancy and childbirth. The sphincters-muscles that keep the bladder closed until you urinate-may also be weakened.
  • Nerve damage. Damaged nerves may send signals to the bladder at the wrong time, causing the bladder to push out urine without warning. Or damaged nerves send no signals at all, so the brain can’t tell when the bladder is full. Trauma or diseases such as diabetes can cause nerve damage.
  • Medicines, alcohol, and caffeine. Leaking can happen when medicines or alcohol affect the nerves or muscles. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee or cola cause the bladder to fill quickly, which may cause the bladder to leak.
  • Infection. A urinary tract infection can irritate bladder nerves and cause the bladder to squeeze without warning.
  • Excess weight. Being overweight can put pressure on the bladder and contribute to leakage.

What can I do about bladder control problems?

Just changing some daily habits may help. If you tend to leak urine at certain times of the day, you can make trips to the bathroom ahead of time to avoid an accident. If you notice that certain foods and drinks cause you to urinate more often, try avoiding them.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk with your doctor about your problem. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine that can calm muscles and nerves to treat an overactive bladder. If your leakage is caused by weak muscles, your doctor or nurse can help you learn to do exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles. Or your doctor may fit you with a device worn in the vagina that helps lift the bladder. If other treatments fail, your doctor may suggest surgery to improve bladder control.

Kidney Stones: What You Need to Know

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on August 16, 2012 at 8:00 am


Did you know severe pain in your back or side that won’t go away could be a kidney stone?

What is a kidney stone?

A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms in the kidney out of substances in the urine. Kidney stones may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pearl. Some stones are even as big as golf balls. Most kidney stones pass out of the body with urine. But sometimes a stone will not pass by itself and needs a doctor’s care.

Who gets kidney stones?

You are more likely to get a kidney stone if

  • you are Caucasian
  • you are male
  • you are 40 or older
  • you have had a kidney stone before

How do I know if I have a kidney stone?

Kidney stones often do not cause any symptoms and pass through the body without being noticed. But sometimes stones can cause great pain.

You should call your doctor if you have

  • extreme pain in your back or side that will not go away
  • blood in your urine
  • fever and chills
  • vomiting
  • urine that smells bad or looks cloudy
  • a burning feeling when you urinate

What can my doctor do about a problem stone?

Your doctor may use a machine that sends shock waves to the stone and breaks it into smaller pieces. The small pieces will then pass through your urinary system with your urine.

Sometimes a stone is removed through “tunnel surgery.” The surgeon makes a small cut in the back and creates a narrow tunnel into the kidney. The surgeon then locates and removes the stone using a special instrument.

If the stone is in the ureter-the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder-the doctor may use a ureteroscope. This slender instrument is inserted into the urethra-the short tube that carries urine out of the bladder when you urinate-through the bladder, then into the ureter. The doctor will catch the stone with a small cage in the uteroscope and pull it out. Or the doctor may shatter the stone with a device inserted through the ureteroscope.

What can I do to prevent kidney stones?

Drink lots of water. Water helps to flush away the substances that form stones in the kidneys. If you have had a kidney stone before, you’re likely to have others. Talk with your doctor about other ways to avoid more stones.


Urinary Tract Infections: What You Need to Know

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on August 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

Did you know that urinary tract infections affect more than half of all women?

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A UTI is an infection in the urinary tract. Bacteria are the most common cause of UTIs. Normally, bacteria that enter the urinary tract are quickly removed by the body. But sometimes bacteria overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause infection.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms of a UTI vary. For young women, UTI symptoms include a frequent and intense urge to urinate and a painful, burning feeling during urination. The amount of urine may be very small. Older women and men are more likely to feel tired, shaky, and weak and have muscle aches and stomach pain. Urine may look cloudy, dark, or bloody or have a foul smell.

Who gets UTIs?

People of any age or sex can get UTIs. But about four times as many women get UTIs as men. Women who use a diaphragm are more likely to get UTIs than women who use other forms of birth control. Others at higher risk for UTIs are people

  • with diabetes or problems with the body’s natural defense system
  • who need a tube to drain their bladder
  • with problems in the urinary tract that block the flow of urine
  • with spinal cord injuries or other nerve damage around the bladder

What should I do if I think I have a UTI?

If you think you have a UTI, see your health care provider. Your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and then test a sample of your urine for bacteria. Your urine will be checked with a microscope for bacteria and white blood cells, which the body produces to fight infection. UTIs are treated with bacteria-fighting medicines called antibiotics.

How can I prevent UTIs?

Changing some of your daily habits may help you prevent UTIs:

  • Eating, diet, and nutrition. Drinking lots of fluid can help flush bacteria from your system. Water is best. Most people should try for six to eight, 8-ounce glasses a day. Check with your health care provider to learn how much fluid is healthy for you.
  • Urination habits. Urinate often and when you first feel the urge. Urinate shortly after sex. After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back.
  • Clothing. Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing. Avoid nylon underwear and tight-fitting jeans.
  • Birth control. Women who use a diaphragm or spermicide and have trouble with UTIs can try switching to a new form of birth control.
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