4 Bladder Health Symptoms to NEVER Ignore
The last few months of the calendar year are when many of us get so busy we may ignore or put off health concerns. But waiting to take care of yourself until a less active season can be unwise and, in some cases, downright dangerous or life-threatening. Regarding urinary health, the following four symptoms are some that people can shrug off as no big deal when they are a big deal. Read through and make sure you know what to do if any of these symptoms arise in your bathroom.
- Urinary Urgency - This bladder health condition is characterized by a strong and persistent urge to urinate - in some cases, with little to no urine expelled from the urethra when trying to go to the bathroom. Urinary urgency is a generalized urologic symptom that can indicate a urinary tract infection, overactive bladder, certain types of bladder cancer, or an issue with the prostate gland for men. Even if other symptoms do not accompany urinary urgency, the frequent need to urinate without being able to expel urine from the bladder must be evaluated and treated by a healthcare provider. Urinary urgency can also be a problem even if average or high volumes of urine are expelled. In such cases, the cause of the concern could be uncontrolled diabetes, excess fluid intake, excess use of diuretic medication, or a problem with the kidney's ability to concentrate urine.
- Urinary Retention - Urinary retention is when the bladder is complete but cannot empty its contents. The most common cause of urinary retention in men is an enlarged prostate. As the prostate grows, it can obstruct the urethra and will prevent the urine from emptying. In women, the most common cause of urinary retention is pelvic prolapse. With pelvic prolapse, the urethra becomes angulated or "kinked," leading to difficulty with emptying the bladder. The treatment for urinary retention is centered around first identifying the root cause of the issue. No matter the reason for urinary retention, proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment is crucial. Without addressing the underlying causes of retention, the problem may cause kidney failure, sepsis, stone formation in the urinary tract, and possibly other complications. Urinary retention is not a condition to "wait and see" if it resolves. If you or someone you know cannot urinate for more than 4 - 6 hours, they should seek immediate medical attention like going to the ER, calling their urologist (if they have one), or making an urgent call to their primary doctor.
- Painful Urination - For some people, pain while urinating can feel sharp or burning, while others experience it as more of a dull ache. No matter the description of the pain experienced, it is not normal and signals a problem within the urinary tract. UTIs can be common causes of pain while urinating, but there is a variety of other potential reasons. Other possible urinary pain causes can include prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) in men, a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhea and interstitial cystitis (inflammation of the lining of the bladder), or kidney stones. Each of these conditions is cause for immediate medical attention.
- Hematuria - Urine that's pink, red, or appears to be streaked with blood should always be addressed. If you're experiencing any appearance of blood in your urine, even if you aren't experiencing pain associated with the presence of the blood, calling your doctor immediately is in order. But don't panic. Hematuria can be a symptom of conditions that are easy to treat, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). However, finding blood in the urine may also be the symptom of a kidney infection, kidney stones, and bladder or kidney cancers, so it is critical to have it evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider immediately.
Of course, there is a variety of other symptoms that can impact bladder health in men and women. The above are a few that we see patients trying to explain away or put on the back burner until a more convenient time. But I'm here to tell you that the risks of waiting to address bladder health concerns almost always outweigh the benefits. Squeeze in the call or visit your doctor if anything out of the ordinary arises with your bladder health (or the health of any other part of your body, for that matter!). You will be glad you did.