Another Pit Stop? What to Do When Your Bladder Is Out of Whack

Tips for men on managing 4 bladder common conditions
Another Pit Stop? What to Do When Your Bladder Is Out of Whack

Guys, do you find it tough to make it through a movie without hitting the john?

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Or maybe it’s hard to get the flow started. Is this normal, or is something wrong?

The symptoms of bladder problems range from mildly annoying (one more pit stop!?) to worrisome (it shouldn’t hurt to pee, should it?).

The key is, if you’re annoyed or worried, you should have your doctor check things out.

Urologist Andrew Altman, MD, explains four common urinary conditions, along with signs to watch for and what you can do about them.

1. Overactive bladder

“Nerve damage, excessive alcohol and caffeine can may fuel an overactive bladder, or OAB,” Dr. Altman says.

The signs: You need to hit the john frequently, and often urgently; and you’re getting up to pee more than once during the night.

The fixes: Drink less alcohol and/or cut down on caffeine. Your doctor may recommend bladder retraining, medication, or treatments such as Botox® injections.

2. Urinary tract infections

The signs: When you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you notice a burning sensation when you pee, and cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

The fix: Your doctor likely will treat a UTI with an antibiotic.

3. Kidney stones

As the name suggests, these are stones that form inside the kidneys.

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“You may pass small kidney stones without noticing. But larger ones will definitely get your attention,” says Dr. Altman.

The signs: You’ll likely notice side pain, bloody urine and nausea.

The fixes: Increase your water intake. Your doctor may recommend medication, or surgery, depending on how severe the problem is.

4. Prostate enlargement

More than half of all men in their 60s develop an enlarged prostate, a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

This number increases with age as the prostate gland slowly grows, narrowing the outlet of the bladder.

The signs: You’ll notice urgency and more nighttime bathroom trips. As the prostate gets larger, you may see obstructive symptoms such as slow flow, difficulty starting the flow and dribbling.

If you haven’t mentioned your symptoms to your doctor, you’re certainly not alone, notes Dr. Altman.

“It’s pretty common, as men get older, to get up at night,” he says. “But men often don’t seek help until they’re making three to four trips to the bathroom each night.”

The fixes: If symptoms are mild, your doctor may take a wait-and-see approach, he says. If they’re disruptive, medication can help shrink the prostate or open up the prostate channel to improve flow.

When medication doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive procedure or surgery.

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More about blood in the urine

Bloody urine can mean kidney stones. But it also can signal a more serious condition, such as bladder cancer or prostate cancer.

“Bladder cancer is most common in older men, particularly those with a long history of smoking, or exposure to industrial grease, oil, rubber or heavy metals,” Dr. Altman says. Blood is typically the only symptom.

If prostate cancer runs in your family, or if you are African-American, you’re at high risk — and should talk with your doctor about PSA testing in your early 50s, he says.

If you are at low risk, ask your doctor about prostate cancer screening after age 54.

“But talk with your doctor even when you’re at low risk,” advises Dr. Altman. “Doctors might not order a test unless you discuss it and arrive at a shared decision.”

When to see your doctor

Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to discuss any unusual bladder symptoms with your doctor.

“It’s important for any man, as he ages, to see a urologist about all the potential causes of bothersome urinary symptoms,” Dr. Altman says.

It will feel good to finally watch that movie all the way through to the end.

And to sleep peacefully through the night.

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