News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

Within the body, the organ that looks like a pouch is called the bladder. The bladder is a fleshy storage area that passes urine through two long tubes called ureters to the kidneys where it is temporarily stored until it is discharged from the body. It is located in the pelvic area below the kidneys.

The bladder is about the size of a grapefruit. It can stretch when needed and will shrink when it is empty. It can hold 16 ounces of urine at one time comfortably for two to five hours. According to The Cleveland Clinic, most people urinate six to eight times in a 24 hour period. Constant urination should be checked out, however, it is common to urinate more as one ages.

The bladder has four layers. The innermost one, the epithelium, acts as the protective layer for the bladder. The next layer, the lamina propria is composed of connective tissue, muscle, and blood vessels. The muscularis propria, or detrusor muscle, consists of thick smooth muscle bundles that wrap around the lamina propria. The most outer layer is the perisical, which consists of soft tissue made up of fat, fibrous tissue, and blood vessels.

There is an opening at the bottom of the bladder that connects to the urethra which moves urine out of the body. A circular, muscular sphincter contracts and closes to keep the urethra from leaking urine. Most of us don’t think about our bladder, but consciously following some simple steps can help you stay healthy. Regularly urinate every three to four hours. Holding urine in the bladder too long can weaken muscles and make a bladder infection more likely.

Regularly do pelvic exercises known as Kegel. Daily exercises can help strengthen muscles, which can keep urine from leaking when you sneeze, cough, laugh or lift. Kegel exercises can also help avoid infections by strengthening muscles that empty into the bladder.

Wearing loose, cotton underwear, or loose-fitting clothing is ideal. Tight clothing and nylon underwear may trap moisture and help bacteria to grow. Maintaining a healthy weight and nutritional balance can help you manage your bladder health. Some people find beverages and food such as sodas, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, tomato based foods, and citrus fruits and juices exacerbate bladder problems.

Drink plenty of water to ensure you are urinating regularly. Limit alcohol and caffeine as they can make bladder conditions worse. Bladder problems can disrupt day-to-day life. Common bladder problems include urinary tract infections, urinary retention, and urinary incontinence.

Signs of urinary problems may include leaking or the ability to hold in urine, cloudy urine, bloody urine, pain or burning during urination, trouble emptying the bladder, or a weak stream. If you notice persistent signs, speak to your physician. Treatments often include lifestyle and behavioral changes, exercises, medications, surgery or a combination of treatment. If you are experiencing problems, it is important to get checked out to rule out bladder cancer. If caught early, it is generally treatable.

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