Bad Bladder Habits


By Niall Galloway, MB, FRCS, FRCSE
Founder and director of Emory University’s Continence Center in Atlanta, GA

Nature tries to displace infecting organisms from the bladder by frequent voiding. The combination of diluting with water and displacing with frequent bladder emptying is the corner stone of natural defense against infection. Infrequent voiding patterns are common in the work place. Many “modern jobs” involve sitting for long intervals at a telephone or computer and there is little opportunity to go when the need arises. For the bladder that is colonized with organisms, the longer the interval between voiding the longer the germs have to incubate and grow before being displaced.

Never use abdominal straining to void. Patients should be encouraged to empty the bladder by relaxation of the pelvic floor and urethra and not by straining. As you strain, you close the distal third of the urethra and effectively displace organisms from the urethra back into the bladder. Take your time to empty, don’t be rushed or hurried.

Modern society does not do a good job of teaching or promoting healthy voiding habits. School children are often discouraged from voiding when they need to and are encouraged to postpone. The opportunities that are provided for voiding in urban environments and even modern shopping malls are deplorable. Provision of toilet facilities is universally inadequate both in quantity and quality.

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