Changes in Bathroom Habits That Are Signs of Health Problems

February 22,2021 |
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A healthy person urinates multiple times throughout the day. When you’re properly hydrated, your urine appears as a pale yellowish color and is translucent. While everyone’s bathroom habits are different, they tend to be fairly consistent. A healthy adult has no issues with their routine and notices no changes. This is not to say that changes never happen or if they do it means that you’re in serious danger. Changes in bathroom habits can be normal if you increase your liquid intake, begin a new exercise regimen, or have just undergone surgery. In other cases, changes can be a signal that something’s wrong. Here are some common changes in bathroom habits that are signs of health problems.

Frequent Urination

There’s a direct correlation between the amount of liquid you drink and the frequency you need to urinate throughout the day. However, some people experience frequent urination without changing their liquid intake. In these instances, it’s likely that your bladder is to blame. Frequent urination can be a sign that your bladder is not able to adequately store a healthy amount of urine. This can be caused by things like diabetes, pregnancy, prostate problems, interstitial cystitis, diuretics, stroke, neurological diseases, bladder cancer, bladder dysfunction, or radiation therapy. If you notice an increase in the frequency of urination, see your doctor for diagnostic testing.

An Increase in Urinary Urgency

Urgency is when the need to urinate comes on strong and fast. It is similar to the feeling you get after holding it in when you’re not close to a bathroom, such as during a road trip. The main difference is that urgency occurs suddenly and without warning.

Urinary urgency is often caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). Along with a burning sensation, urgency is actually one of the most common UTI symptoms. If you begin feeling urgency without any other symptoms, see your doctor. A simple urinalysis can be done to properly diagnose a UTI, which requires antibiotics to cure. If you experience frequent or recurring UTIs, make sure that you discuss your options with your doctor. While there is a link between sex and UTIs, there are a number of other reasons why you might be experiencing chronic infections and there are ways to alleviate discomfort in between treatments.

If you don’t suspect a UTI, it’s still important to visit your doctor as urgency can indicate damage to the nerves that control the bladder, overactive bladder, urethritis, and other urologic conditions. Certain medications and diuretics can cause urinary urgency.

Blood in Urine

Sometimes when you use the bathroom, you might notice that your urine appears an unusual color. While any changes in color are often due to hydration levels, medication, or foods that you’ve eaten, there are some instances that call for immediate care. This is especially true in the case of hematuria, or blood in the urine. This can either be through microscopic hematuria or gross hematuria. Gross hematuria is when you’ll see a change in the color of your urine after using the bathroom. Hematuria can be caused by a severe UTI, kidney infection, injury to the kidney, bladder or kidney stones, enlarged prostate, kidney disease, cancer, strenuous exercising, certain medications, and more. While hematuria can happen to anyone, it’s important that you get a proper understanding of the cause before you move forward with treatment. Sometimes hematuria is harmless; sometimes it’s not. Call your doctor if you notice any blood in your urine.

Waking up to Urinate Throughout the Night

If you suddenly find yourself waking up multiple times throughout the night to use the bathroom, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. Frequent urination at night is also referred to as nocturia and is considered a medical condition. Nocturia is when you wake up more than once to urinate. It can have a drastic impact on your sleep cycle. While nocturia is fairly common, especially as you get older, it can also be caused by diabetes, congestive heart failure, high sodium intake, certain medications, diuretics, sleeping disorders, edema, bladder obstruction, benign prostatic hyperplasia, overactive bladder, bladder or kidney infection, bladder malignancy, recurring UTIs, bladder inflammation, interstitial cystitis, sleep apnea, and more.

Due to the number of things that can cause nocturia, it’s understandable that so many people experience it. However, over time, the loss of sleep can have extremely negative impacts on your health and overall quality of life, so it’s important to address the problem.  

Difficulty Urinating

If you go to use the bathroom and struggle to urinate or notice that only a few drops of urine come out, it could be a sign of dehydration, kidney or bladder problems, UTIs, prostate problems, or even kidney stones. Difficult urinating, or the inability to urinate altogether, is fairly common but that doesn’t mean it’s not a sign of a problem. If you notice that you’re having difficulty urinating for more than 24 to 48 hours, contact your doctor. Getting the proper diagnosis is important to ensuring that you receive the proper treatment and address any underlying causes.

You Notice Leakage

While many people joke about laughing so hard they pee their pants, urinary leakage can indicate underlying problems. If you notice any signs of urinary leakage, also referred to as urinary incontinence, schedule a visit with your urologist today. While it seems like an embarrassing topic, it’s common—especially in aging adults. Urinary incontinence can range in severity from mild to serious and can occur in different ways. There are a few different types of urinary incontinence, including stress incontinence, overactive bladder (urgency urinary incontinence), overflow incontinence, and mixed incontinence. It can be temporary or persistent and can sometimes indicate serious underlying conditions.

Untreated urinary incontinence can also lead to more serious problems over time both physically and mentally. It often has a negative effect on mental health and can lower your overall quality of life. See your urologist if you notice any urinary leakage and don’t feel embarrassed to talk about it.

Regardless of if you tend to have regular bathroom habits or not, keep an eye out for anything that seems abnormal. As you get older, schedule regular visits with your urologist and call for a consultation at any sign of a problem. It’s always better to treat these things while they’re mild, which simultaneously lowers your risk for any complications. If you notice any pain during urination, whether it’s temporary or ongoing, see your urologist as soon as possible. Pain is an indication that something is wrong, and you likely have an infection or condition that requires immediate attention.

Actions to Protect Your Urologic Health

As you get older, your body changes. These changes affect everything from your eyesight and hearing to your bladder and urinary tract. While some change is inevitable, there are things you can do to protect your urologic health and keep your bladder strong. Some of the best ways to be healthy and support your urologic health include:

  • Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated
  • Eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein
  • Avoiding overly processed foods and drinks
  • Getting regular exercise and avoiding sedentary behaviors
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting your alcohol intake or eliminating it completely
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting your salt intake

    Some essential activities to improved bladder health include:

  • Limiting Bladder Irritants – bladder irritants are substances that can worsen common urologic problems and create trouble. Common irritants include caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods, and acidic foods.
  • Practicing Good Bathroom Habits – when you use the bathroom, take your time. Make sure that you empty your bladder completely and avoid cutting off your urination too early. Women should always wipe front to back to reduce the chance of infection.
  • Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor Muscles – just like muscles in the rest of the body, your pelvic floor muscles need exercise to get stronger. Regardless of if you’re male or female, performing kegels or other training regimens can help you strengthen your muscles and reduce symptoms of incontinence and urgency.
  • Seeing Your Urologist Regularly – schedule regular appointments with your urologist as you get older and don’t skip them. By undergoing early screening techniques you’ll be able to catch problems early and treat them more effectively. After the age of 50, men should begin getting yearly prostate exams.

If you notice any signs or symptoms of a urologic problem, or changes in your bathroom habits, schedule a visit with your urologist today. While maintaining healthy lifestyle habits is a great way to reduce your risk of problems, certain genetic and environmental factors are also in play. If problems do arise, the professionals at Byram Healthcare are here to help.