Dr. Mandi Murtaugh Physical Therapy + Yoga

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Urgency Part 1: When You Gotta Go

When you gotta go, do you GOTTA GO? Do you feel like your bladder is going to explode every time you put your key in the front door? Does running water send you running to the bathroom?

Urinary Urgency is defined as a “sudden, compelling urge to urinate.” Sure it happens after you hold it for a while, like on a plane or at a movie, which is totally normal. But if it happens ALL THE TIME, and starts to limit your life? That’s a problem. It’s one of those things that a lot of people don’t realize is a problem until they hear that it’s not actually normal.

What causes urgency? There are a few different contributors. The most common is bladder irritants, which are foods and drinks that the bladder just doesn’t like. The big ones are coffee, tea, alcohol, carbonation and artificial sweeteners. (Most of us can relate to hitting the road with a cup of coffee only to stop at the first rest area we come across, amiright?) Others are acidic foods like tomatoes, spicy food, and citrus.

Another big cause of urgency is not drinking enough water. Say what? A lot of people with bladder issues cut down their fluids to AVOID having to pee, but this actually contributes to the problem. If your body doesn’t have enough fluid, the bladder is really unhappy. Why would it want to hold on to super concentrated urine? One easy way to tell if you’re hydrated is to check your output: if it’s smelly, dark urine, you’re probably dehydrated. You want it to be “clear and copious,” as my high school track coach always said (oh the things we remember).

My advice: work toward drinking half your body weight in fluid ounces, mostly water. Don’t like water? Add cucumber or a slice of lemon.

There is usually lot more going on with Urgency, but I don’t have room for it here. I typically spend two whole sessions on educating my patients about how the bladder works and how to retrain it!

If you raised your hand with those first questions, start with looking at what you put into your body (and therefore your bladder). I’ll share more in Part 2, so keep an eye out!

What makes you gotta go? Share in the comments!