What Version is Your Urine?

By Riva Preil

There are many wonderful aspects to being a pelvic floor physical therapist.  One of the many enjoyable parts of my job is that it affords me the opportunity to converse about matters that others would not routinely discuss.  For example, it is completely normal, expected, and professionally appropriate for me to discuss urinary patterns and habits.  Other health care providers, including urologists, are in the same proverbial boat.

One urologist, Dr. Leslie Spry, M.D., FACP, recently wrote a wonderful article that appeared in the Huffington Post on April 10, 2014, entitled “Five Key Health Insights Your Urine Can Offer.”  In this article, Dr. Spry explains the function of the kidneys is to filter “the bad” (i.e. toxins and waste) from “the good” (i.e. the bloodstream).  Of the 200 liters that pass through the kidneys on a daily basis, approximately 2 liters pass through the excretory system (from the kidneys, through the ureters, into the bladder, finally exiting the body through the urethra).

Dr. Spry further describes how valuable information can be gleaned from the appearance of one’s urine.  He encourages readers to investigate their urine prior to flushing.  Several key points of his article include:

  • Urine concentration reflects hydration levels.  The clearer the urine, the better!
  • Color and scent of urine can provide valuable information regarding kidney health.  An occasional pink shade of urine may simply be the result food dyes (ex. beets) or certain medications, but it may reflect something more.  Therefore, if one notices a color or odor in their urine that is atypical for several days, further medical investigation is warranted.
  • Increased bubble production in urine may indicate excessive protein in the urine, which is an early sign of kidney damage.
  • Increased urinary frequency may be associated with diabetes.
  • Increased urinary urgency may be associated with an infection (ex. urinary tract infection).  These three findings deserve further medical attention as well.

Urinary frequency and urgency may also be the result of pelvic floor muscle tightness. Physical therapy has been proven effective at treating muscular related urinary dysfunction.  We here at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy are trained and skilled in the treatment of musculoskeletal related pelvic floor dysfunction.  If you or someone you know can benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy please contact us- we would be happy to help!

P.S. A special thank you to my wonderful blog reader who brought this article to my attention.  I appreciate and warmly welcome interesting articles that you discover.  Please feel free to share them with me at: riva@beyondbasicsphysicaltherapy.com. Thank you!

Why Drinking MORE Water Helps You Leak LESS

By Riva Preil

Sounds counterintuitive, right? Believe it or not, drinking adequate amounts of water, specifically 64 fluid ounces per day (= 8 cups of water) promotes bladder health and helps people with urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence, the unintentional voiding of urine, can be related to bladder filling and storing deficiencies. Normally, the bladder (also known as the detrusor muscle) expands like a balloon as it fills with urine until the stretch receptors in the bladder send a message to your brain telling you, “Now I’m full, it’s  time to go to the bathroom.” However, the foods and fluids we eat and drink affect the bladder’s ability to store urine. Drinking bladder irritants (ex. alcohol, coffee, caffeine, and carbonated beverages) can cause the detrusor muscle to involuntarily contract, thus causing urine leakage.  These irritants can cause the bladder to contract even before it is entirely full. Therefore, if someone leaks urine it may be more related to their diet rather than to their bladder actually requiring to be emptied due to fullness. Therefore, it is crucial to load up on a NON-irritating, bladder healthy fluid- water- in order to flush out any potential irritants. This irritant dilution reduces the potential for involuntary detrusor contraction. Drinking MORE of bladder friendly water will allow for proper and complete filling and emptying of the bladder every 2.5 to 3 hours. If you or someone you know experiences urinary incontinence, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder, or urinary frequency (voiding more than 8x/day or 0-1x/night), please speak to your doctor about pelvic floor therapy. It might be the perfect solution!