Bladder Weakness: Causes, Risk Factors, and Natural Remedies
Bladder weakness, or overactive bladder, is a condition characterized by frequent urination caused by the inability of the bladder to hold urine for long. Occasional frequent urination occurs normally in certain situations, such as cold weather and increased fluid intake, however, bladder weakness is an intrinsic problem of the bladder, resulting in frequent urination, causing severe impairment in one’s daily life.
The bladder can hold up to 400-600 milliliters of urine and upon reaching this value, it stimulates a micturition reflex – an interplay of signals between your nervous system and your bladder – which prompts you to go use the toilet. When it can’t hold up to this amount before it makes you feel the urge to urinate, it is considered weak. There are several causes of bladder weakness and identifying the cause is the first step in managing it.
Causes of Bladder Weakness
Overactive bladder is caused by involuntary contraction of the bladder muscles, whether it is full or not. There are a number of causes of an overactive bladder, including:
- Neurological conditions – Some diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and multiple sclerosis (MS) can disrupt the signal transfer between your nervous system and your bladder, causing the bladder to stimulate a micturition reflex earlier than necessary.
- Nerve damage – Diseases which cause nerve damage disrupt the communication between the nerves and the bladder. Some of these conditions include diabetes neuropathy, infections of the brain and spinal cord, and trauma to or surgery involving the spine or pelvic area.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) – UTI may be associated with increased activity of the bladder wall muscle. This results in frequent urination, as found in bladder weakness, and other symptoms such as painful urination and blood in the urine.
- Urinary obstruction – Blockages or abnormalities in the urinary tract that obstructs the flow of urine may cause symptoms of an overactive bladder. Some of these disorders include bladder stones, enlarged prostate, and tumours.
Risk Factors for Bladder Weakness
There are certain factors that increase your chances of developing an overactive bladder. These include the following:
- Age – Although overactive bladder can occur at any age, you are more likely to develop it if you are old. Additionally, advanced age also influences several factors that affect bladder control.
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop overactive bladder and this is , in part, due to the effects of menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause on a woman’s hormonal balance and the strength of the pelvic floor muscles.
- Overweight – Being overweight or obese puts excess pressure on the bladder, reducing the volume of urine needed to fill the bladder.
Factors which trigger an overactive bladder include eating acidic food items such as tomatoes and citrus fruits, not drinking enough fluids, low fiber intake in the diet, and heavy intake of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, and constipation.
Natural Remedies for Bladder Weakness.
Bladder weakness is a treatable condition, with herbs, exercises, and behavioral therapies constituting the most effective treatment for the disease. The following are natural remedies for bladder weakness.
- Weight Loss – Weight loss is essential for overweight persons with bladder weakness. Excess weight increases the pressure on the bladder, causing stress incontinence. Regular exercise is, therefore, critical for the relief of bladder weakness. Research has revealed that women with obesity who lose 10 percent of their body weight reported improvement in their bladder control by up to 50 percent.
- Muscle Training – You can do special pelvic floor exercises, called Kegel exercises if you have been diagnosed with bladder weakness. These exercises help to strengthen your pelvic muscles to reduce involuntary contraction. The various techniques of Kegel exercises include:
- Stop urine flow mid-stream – This contracts and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
- Tighten the pelvic muscles when you have an empty bladder – This is alternated by relaxing the muscles after about five seconds of holding this position, the process is repeated five times to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
- Bladder Retraining – Bladder retraining aims to restore the normal function of the bladder. It involves several steps including keeping a journal of the frequency of your urination and delaying urination when you feel the urge to pee. You may begin to delay urination for a few minutes, then increase the delay progressively for hours as you can tolerate.
- Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are potent anti-inflammatory substances that have been found to improve urinary function and reduce the symptoms of bladder weakness.
- Kokhi Tea – Kokhi tea is an extract of a plant in southern China. It has been found to be rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances and to improve bladder function. Other herbal supplements useful for treating an overactive bladder include Gosha-jinki-gan, cornsilk. Horsetail, and capsaicin.
- Bladder-Friendly Drinks – Drinks which improve bladder control include plain water, soy milk, cranberry juice, caffeine-free teas, and barley water.
What Foods and Drinks to Avoid
There are certain foods and drinks that irritate the bladder and which you should avoid. These include:
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy foods
- Tomato-based foods
- Artificial sweeteners
Also, smoking irritates the bladder muscle and should be avoided if you have an overactive bladder. Also, remember to stay well hydrated if you have bladder weakness because you urinate frequently as a result of the disorder and a concentrated urine further irritates the bladder muscle.
If these natural remedies do not improve your symptoms, ensure you speak to your doctor and tell them about which of the remedies you have tried. Your doctor will select an appropriate treatment option – medicines or surgery – that will give you a satisfactory resolution of your symptoms.