“Oh, No—Gotta Go!”

bathroom run“Oh, No—Gotta Go!”

One of the signs that you are getting on in years is bladder control—or should I say, the lack thereof! Many of my friends are a full decade older than I. Often times when we are together there will be a sudden break in conversation as my somewhat panicked-faced friend exclaims, “Oh, no, I need to use the restroom”, and off she runs.

The trouble with a frequent, strong urge to void is that it can become a round the clock nuisance causing you to wake throughout the night to the sound of your own “bladder alarm”. One of my patients recently reported using the bathroom 3-4 times a night! All that “going” must be reined in, but how?

The first thing I recommend is that you begin to endurance train your bladder. Many people use the facilities far too often, reasoning “Let me go now, before I really have to go later” or “I should really visit the bathroom once more before I leave.” All that emptying of a partially filled bladder lessens your bladder’s tolerance to becoming naturally full.  If your urine stream lasts less than 10 slow seconds (y’know, one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi), then you have voided too early. The frequency of urination should be approximately eight times during the day (and not at all during the night). Work at stretching out the time between bathroom runs throughout the day and you will likely restore your bladder to all of its former fullness.

My second piece of advice, aimed at nighttime potty runs, is that you should avoid drinking caffeinated beverages at dinnertime and consuming much fluids after dinnertime. Get in the bulk of your hydration earlier in the day so you and your bladder can sleep through the night.

If neither of these fixes seem to dial back your bladder urgency, please visit your primary care physician or a urologist. Men can have increased urgency due to prostate gland enlargement and women due to a downward “reorganization” of their pelvic organs. Prescription medications are also available which are designed to decrease the frequency of your urination so that you can, once again, be free to roam far from the facilities without fear.

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