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Friday, September 30, 2016

Don't Hold Your Pee!

     The kidneys have a number of important functions one of which includes regulating blood pressure. Taiwanese researchers studied 40 people with early heart disease found that the stress of having a full bladder increases the heart rate by an average of 9 beats per minute. When your bladder expands, it increases activity in the sympathetic nervous system which may cause coronary vessels to constrict, increasing the heart rate which might boost the risk of heart-attack. 
     Sometimes in an attempt to curb the frequent bathroom trips, one might try to hold their pee, but it's a bad idea. Ignoring that distended bladder can do some serious damage. 
     One former Army doctor told the story of a soldier who had gotten drunk and passed out the night before and his bladder was holding the equivalent of about three bottles of wine and it became over distended. The result? After that, he was never able to urinate normally again and had to use a catheter four to six times a day. 
     That's an extreme case and it's not likely that holding your pee for an hour or two will lead to permanent damage like that, but the body’s urge to pee for long periods of time can cause bladder problems. For example, long-term urinary tract symptoms like frequent and painful urination could develop. 
     That said, mad dashes to urinate multiple times a day could indicate a more serious health problem. Peeing 2 to 3 times a night can be a red flag since most people can get through the night without a head call. 
     When your bladder fills up nerve signals are sent to the brain saying you need to take a leak. But if you have an overactive bladder those signals fire even when you’re low on urine. Doctors aren’t sure what causes an overactive bladder and it's nit really serious, but it can be annoying. One in six Americans suffer from this condition, but as you get older, your risk increases. 
     Other potential causes of frequent urination include diabetes, urinary tract infections, and an enlarged prostate. The old prostate pushes on the urethra which makes the bladder work harder to push the urine out. This extra activity inflames the nerves and can cause a weak flow, which prevents the complete emptying of the bladder which in turn makes frequent bathroom trips more likely. 
     If one is peeing frequently, but the flow is not much more than a dribble, it could be an enlarged prostate or it could be something called a stricture, which is a buildup of scar tissue in the urethra. A stricture is painful and can cause urinary retention. Left untreated, it can result in kidney damage, so surgical treatment is often recommended. 
     Of course, frequent trips to the can could also be the result of nothing more than the result of drinking diuretics like caffeinated tea, coffee, or alcohol or Gatorade. Drinking these beverages too late at night can also cause waking to pee at night. Anxiety can also spark the need to pee, even if you just peed a little bit ago. 
     If frequent trips are starting to seriously impact your day, see a doctor to discover the cause. They will likely do a blood test to check for any medical conditions, like diabetes and check for an infection. Be prepared to suffer through a rectal exam to check for an enlarged prostate. These aren't a lot of fun, but remember, they aren't the highlight of the doctor's day either. They will also probably do an ultrasound to check for urinary retention. Treatment depends on the problem: antibiotics, pelvic exercises or medication. 

See article on Science Alert

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