The turning of the calendar offers an ideal time to reconsider your goals and hit reset on your life and your health. While many people focus on goals such as weight loss, it’s also a good opportunity to focus on other aspects of your health, such as improving your bladder health. Here are seven bladder health resolutions that we are making in the new year.
- Practice healthy hydration.
When it comes to hydration and your bladder, there’s a balance between drinking too much and not drinking enough. Skimp on your water intake, and you’ll quickly get dehydrated — but drink too much, and you’ll find yourself running to the bathroom every few minutes. As a general rule of thumb, most women need about three liters of fluid a day to stay hydrated, but that varies from person to person. Water is obviously the best beverage to drink, but any fluid counts towards that total. However, you should try to limit your consumption of diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration and irritate your bladder. If you don’t like plain water, try caffeine-free herbal tea instead, or infuse your water with fruits and vegetables.
- Eat a balanced diet.
It makes sense that the beverages that you drink affect your bladder health since they get turned into urine and passed through the bladder. But did you know that the food you eat also affects your bladder? Yep, that’s right. Certain foods can irritate your bladder. The most common culprits are spicy foods, tomato-based products, citrus fruits, and chocolate. In the new year, try to watch your consumption of these foods to avoid putting too much strain on your bladder. Consumption in moderation is fun for most people, but you don’t want to go overboard.
- Consider keeping a food and drink log.
If you think that your diet might be affecting your bladder health, but you can’t quite figure out the link between the two, then keeping a symptom log in the new year might help. Basically, the log involves keeping track of what you eat and drink, as well as how much. You should log what bladder symptoms you are having (i.e., if you’re experiencing any irritation, when you use the bathroom, and how much urine you void, etc.). As you maintain the log over time, patterns should start to emerge, which you can use to adjust your behavior moving forward. For instance, you might realize that tomatoes really irritate your bladder, so you might make it a goal to eat less tomato products.
- Do pelvic exercises.
Your pelvic floor exercises are very important to a variety of functions. Not only do they control your bladder, but they also contract and expand your vagina and support all the organs in your core whenever you are sitting, standing, or walking. Having a strong pelvic floor is key to bladder health, so working your pelvic floor should be part of your daily routine. It only takes a few minutes to do a couple of sets of Kegels, pelvic tilts, and other exercises that target this muscle group. Do note that they can make pelvic spasms worse, so if you suffer from these, talk to your doctor about pelvic relaxation techniques instead to help the muscles stretch out.
- Watch out for signs of bladder irritation.
The first step to catching bladder conditions early is knowing the signs of bladder irritation. If you start feeling abnormally strong urges to urinate, need to urinate way more frequently, and/or feel pain in your lower abdomen, that could indicate that your bladder is irritated. In order to calm an irritated bladder, try removing any foods or beverages that might be causing your symptoms and see if they clear up. If your symptoms persist or get worse, then you might need to seek out medical help to determine the root cause of the issue. However, in many cases, being proactive about your bladder health can help the problem from getting worse.
- Seek out professional help, if necessary.
Bladder irritation isn’t the only thing that can go wrong with your bladder health. Urinary tract infections, incontinence, and more can all impact your daily life. If you are feeling like your bladder health is in charge of your life, instead of the other way around, then it might be time to seek out medical help. A doctor can help you figure out what is causing your symptoms and devise a treatment plan, such as bladder control products and medications that will help keep them in check. Bladder irritation isn’t the only thing that can go wrong with your bladder health. It is important to inform you about urinary incontinence (involuntary or accidental loss of urine from the bladder), urinary tract infections, and more that can affect your daily life.
- Quit bad habits like smoking.
Smoking inflames the tissues of pretty much your entire body, including your bladder, kidneys, and related systems. In fact, smoking increases your chances of getting bladder cancer about threefold, and smoking is responsible for about half of all bladder cancers. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your bladder health (not to mention the rest of your health). We know that quitting is hard, so ask your doctor about what resources are available to you, and lean on your friends and family for support. It won’t be easy, but quitting smoking is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make for yourself.
The bladder may not be glamorous, but it’s a critical piece of your health and shouldn’t be put on the backburner. Give your bladder health the attention it deserves with these seven New Year’s resolutions.