Like many organs, your bladder can be a key indicator into your overall health. How frequently you urinate, the color of your urine and how well you can hold it are all signs of potential problems. But there are some other, less obvious conditions your bladder could be telling you.
Let’s take a look at some of these bladder symptoms and what they could be trying to tell you about your health.
The color of your urine can easily indicate whether your body has enough liquid. Dark or strong-smelling urine shows you need to be drinking more fluids, especially water. Other symptoms of dehydration include less frequent urination, headache, feeling tired, dry skin and mouth and dizziness.
Perhaps the most serious possibility of all is cancer. If your urine is pink or reddish and you haven’t eaten foods such as beets or berries, this could be a sign of blood in urine. This is never normal, and requires medical attention right away. Early stage bladder cancer can cause bleeding and usually isn’t painful. There are other conditions in which blood in the urine is a symptom, but make sure to see your doctor right away to know for sure.
3. Bladder Infection
A bladder infection, commonly known as a urinary tract infection (UTI), can have many symptoms. Frequent urination, a burning sensation while urinating, foul-smelling urine, a persistent urge to urinate (urge incontinence) and cloudy urine are all common to experience. UTIs are a common infection for men and women, although most common in women, and usually don’t indicate anything serious. They can be treated with prescription antibiotics from your doctor.
4. Interstitial Cystitis
This condition, also called painful bladder syndrome, affects both men and women, but primarily women. If you’re experiencing frequent, painful urination and general pain in the pelvic region, interstitial cystitis could be the cause. It’s similar in resemblance to a UTI, so have your doctor test you to see if UTI bacteria is present. Interstitial cystitis is often associated with other pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia.
Although you don’t need your bladder to alert you of being overweight, carrying extra pounds can have an impact on it. Excess weight can also affect bladder control by putting added pressure on the muscles that control urine release. This causes frequent urination or the involuntary release of urine, incontinence. If you’re leaking urine when you cough, sneeze or put any other kind of physical stress on your body, this is called stress incontinence.
6. Prostate Issue
Men may experience a sudden urge to urinate, difficulty beginning to urinate, more frequent urination or dribbling after you think you’ve finished urinating. This can be due to the prostate, a gland around the urethra, enlarging over a man’s lifetime. Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) is common in men over 50, but so is prostate cancer, so it’s important to be checked by your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, can affect the way nerve signals reach muscles. This can cause urge incontinence, or feeling the need to go even when you don’t have to. Bladder issues are usually a lesser noticed symptom of hypothyroidism, but should nonetheless be reported to your doctor.
8. Diabetic Issues
When diabetes is poorly managed, nerve damage can result. This usually affects the extremities, but can also affect the muscles that control urination. You could experience bladder issues in several ways due to diabetes: frequent urges to urinate, even when you don’t have to, or a lack of a sensation when you have to go, resulting in wetting episodes. You can also release larger quantities of urine than normal if the body is trying to rid itself of glucose through urine.
9. Sleep Apnea
Surprisingly, sleep apnea is being diagnosed more frequently by urologists. The link? Sleep apnea obstructs the breathing for a minute or longer, which often wakes the person up. They typically go to use the restroom out of habit after being awakened, which can happen several times in one night. Frequent nighttime urination (nocturia) occurs due to sleep apnea because when oxygen levels decrease, the body is alerted something is wrong. The heart then releases a hormone-like protein that tells the body to release sodium and water, resulting in nocturia.
Incontinence, be it stress or urge, is a common symptom of several of these conditions. To learn more about incontinence for men and what you can do, check out our Male Incontinence guide. For more about incontinence in women, check out our Female Incontinence guide.