Things to Keep in Mind This Bladder Health Month
- Posted on: Nov 6 2018
November is Bladder Health month, and whether you have ever suffered from bladder problems, or know someone who has, you know how troublesome bladder issues can be. The goal of Bladder Health Month is to connect, educate, and empower individuals across the United States to get the facts related to bladder issues such as underactive and overactive bladder, interstitial cystitis, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections, and more.
Two of the most common bladder ailments are overactive bladder and urinary incontinence. Though knowing the more prevalent issues is important, what people really want to know is how bladder problems are detected, diagnosed and treated. We’ll cover all that, and more below.
Detecting Bladder Problems
According to the Official Foundation of the American Urological Foundation, “Urinary incontinence touches more than 25 million people in the U.S.,” and “more than 33 million adults in the U.S. [struggle] with OAB (Overactive Bladder) symptoms.” So, how do you know if you have a bladder issue?
What signals should you look for that could indicate you have a bladder problem?
Symptoms include, but aren’t limited to:
- The frequent urge or feeling that you need to urinate
- Leaking urine when you sneeze, cough, or do other activities
- The inability to urinate when you do go to the bathroom
- Pain in the urinary tract or kidneys (sometimes this can feel like extreme abdominal or lower back pain)
If you suspect you do have a bladder issue based on the above symptoms, what do you do next?
Diagnosing Bladder Problems
In some cases, when you visit your doctor with the symptoms we’ve mentioned, a simple urine test can determine your diagnosis. If the diagnosis is a urinary tract or kidney infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics that could clear up the issue. Unfortunately, some cases will require more thorough testing to determine what’s going on. One way doctors can diagnose your problem is by using CT or Ultrasound Imaging of your abdomen or pelvis.
How does a CT or Ultrasound Imaging of the abdomen or pelvis work?
In the most general terms, “imaging” is the term generally used to describe any technique that will provide images of the internal organs and bones of the body. Imaging techniques included ultrasound, X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Should your doctor call for an ultrasound of your abdomen or pelvis, you’ll schedule your appointment and come in to have the exam. Most of the time an ultrasound of this area won’t require any preparation, but in some cases you may be asked to fast for eight hours prior to the procedure.
Once it’s time for the procedure, a water-based gel is applied to the skin in the area that the technician will be examining. The sonographer will then sweep the area with a transducer, applying only mild pressure to the skin, to capture the internal images. After the images have been captured, the skin will be wiped clean, and you’ll be free to leave the exam facility.
After it’s over, your doctor will examine the images in an effort to diagnose your problem. If anything is found, you’ll be given further instructions of what to do next.
If instead your doctor opts for a CT scan, you will be asked to to not eat or drink anything within a few hours before your appointment. You’ll also need to remove jewelry, metal objects such as glasses and other accessories, prior to the procedure.
During the procedure, you’ll by lying on a table, and the table will move through the scanner to capture the images. In some cases, your doctor may have you use a contrast material which will be administered orally or through an IV injection to get a better picture.
Contrast materials, or contrast agents are fluids that are introduced into the body in order to improve the outcome of CT imaging. They don’t “dye” your internal organs, but they do alter the appearance of certain tissues or bodily structures in images so that your doctor can more easily detect if something is wrong.
Within a few days of the CT scan, your doctor will have the results and be able to discuss the findings with you.
Treating Bladder Problems
The treatment recommended for your bladder problem will vary based on what your diagnosis is. Your treatment could include anything from taking antibiotics to performing pelvic floor exercises, increasing your fluid intake, or even changing your diet completely. In extreme cases nerve stimulation or surgery may be necessary. Again, the treatment will vary based on the findings from your CT or Ultrasound.
It’s also important to note that having a CT or Ultrasound of your abdomen or pelvis may not detect your unique issue. If a diagnosis is not possible with these procedures, and you are still having problems, additional tests may be ordered.
Preventing Bladder Problems
Although we can’t prevent every issue that could come to pass, a few things we can do to help prevent bladder problems include:
- Drinking 8 glasses of water a day
- Not smoking
- Reducing or stopping the consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Exercising, and getting to and/or maintaining a healthy weight
- Pelvic floor and Kegel exercises
- And taking your time to fully empty your bladder each time you go to the bathroom
We hope that you never need diagnostic imaging for bladder issues. However, in the unfortunate event that you do, we hope you will consider Go Imaging. To learn more about Ultrasound or CT in Humble or Houston, click here.