The main function of the bladder is to store urine before it gets passed through the urethra and exits the body – also known as urination. The bladder itself as a balloon-shaped, hollow organ that is made up of mostly muscle and can hold approximately 16 ounces (or 3 cups) or urine.
There are many different conditions that can affect the bladder. Below, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary provides information on some of the most common bladder conditions and how they are treated.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
A UTI occurs when bacteria gets into the urine and travels into the bladder, resulting in infection and symptoms such as burning (especially during urination) and abdominal pain. A common cause of urinary tract infections is failing to urinate when you feel the urge. By holding your urine, this gives bacteria more time to grow. It’s also not uncommon to develop a urinary tract infection after sexual intercourse, or if you do not drink enough water. UTI’s are best treated with antibiotics.
Interstitial Cystitis affects approximately 90% of women and occurs when the bladder wall becomes inflamed, resulting in abdominal pain and/or frequent or painful urination. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Interventions used to treat the symptoms of interstitial cystitis include anti-inflammatory medications, analgesics, and even certain anti-depressants.
Incontinence and OAB occur when you can no longer hold your urine and lose control of your bladder, and is caused by uncontrolled muscle spasms of the bladder. Individuals with incontinence/overactive bladder may feel the sudden urge to urinate and notice leakage. Treatment for incontinence/ OAB depends on the individual, but less invasive methods are usually tried first. For example, making lifestyle changes including dietary and behavioural changes. Medications and surgery are used as second and third-line treatment.
For more information on Bladder Health Month, click here.