This development, while all exciting and importantly, it also begs the question: Has something changed for the worse in the broader spectrum of people’s bladder health? The main conclusion from urinary health experts is that, although the reduced stigma around discussing bladder health issues is minimal (we like to see it), the past few years have not promoted a better bladder environment. TL; DR: Yes very much it is possible that the disease has affected your urinary system.
“There is a strong connection between the impact of this epidemic on society and bladder health, in general,” says Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, urologist and women’s health expert for Aeroflow Urology. “These side effects are widespread, but being more aware of them can help people’s efforts to manage their bladder health as best they can.”
How the disease has affected bladder health
1. There have been significant delays in a person’s ability to access bladder health care
“One of the main ways this epidemic has affected bladder health is the delay in getting care. Many people put off seeing a health care provider to discuss their bladder health problems,” says Dr. Fosnight. “This has led to symptoms and events of overactive bladder (OAB), multiple urinary tract infections (UTIs), more serious complications of urinary tract infections such as kidney injury, and an increase in urinary tract infections. like bladder cancer and bladder cancer.” Ooh.
Not only did the epidemic devastate the health care system for a long time, which made it very difficult to get in to see a provider, but it also became a high-risk area for exposure to COVID-19. These delays in care make an already difficult-to-navigate system even more difficult. People who experience a mild burning sensation may not want to see a doctor if they are at risk for severe cases of COVID-19 or if they live with a family member who has the virus.
Additionally, the financial impact on families and individuals throughout the pandemic has resulted in more unstable access to care. Some people are unable to find a primary care physician to talk to about their incontinence when they sneeze or wake up to urinate too often. Finally, it can be difficult to come to the doctor with more obvious problems like OAB or incontinence because it can take time, money, and a difficult environment to diagnose.
2. More focus is placed on acute bladder care needs and less on preventative care
Congestion in the health care field has also made it difficult to see specialists such as urologists, and that has led urgent care offices and emergency rooms to focus more on treating acute issues over preventive care— and the same for patients.
Remember that prioritizing preventive and long-term options to prevent more immediate disease is very important for bladder health. “The thing is, just as getting your teeth cleaned can prevent major problems down the road, contacting a provider and getting care when you notice symptoms is important—even if this means stopping in the emergency room when you feel a burning sensation,” says Dr. Fosnight. “This is because UTIs often require antibiotics to resolve. And if left untreated, they can quickly progress to serious bladder or kidney infections. Additionally, providing a urine sample when you have a UTI is important so you don’t take unnecessary medications for symptoms that may mimic a UTI. This helps ensure that these antibiotics work for you in the future when you need them. The same goes for routine cancer screenings that can save lives in the long run.”
3. Poor lifestyle affects bladder capacity and kidney function
“The results of a survey of 1198 people from Aeroflow Urology showed that 43 percent of people were less active and urinating more during the epidemic,” says Dr. Fosnight. “The connection between physical activity and bladder health is very important. Moving your body regularly throughout the day helps your heart and kidneys move blood through your body and to your kidneys. When this happens, your kidneys filter your blood and create more urine . Having movement in your life can help keep your kidneys and bladder working properly by improving circulation and filtration.”
Getting up and walking and not sitting for hours is a great way to help your overall health—which includes your bladder.
4. Sitting can weaken your pelvic floor and cause urinary incontinence
In addition to engaging in a little physical exercise, many people have also been standing less and sitting more during the epidemic. “Sitting can cause the muscles of the pelvic floor to weaken, causing urinary incontinence,” says Dr. Fosnight.
Your posture also dictates the strength of your posture and muscles, and determines what load we put on our pelvic floor. “For example, when you sit slouched or on one side, it tilts your pelvic floor forward and puts downward pressure on the pelvic area; this is not good for your bladder and pelvic floor strength,” says Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, a specialist pelvic floor physical therapist and founder of Femina PT. “This, over time, can make it harder to ‘hold’ and cause you to urinate more often.”
As a general guide to the urinary system, it’s healthier for your bladder to urinate as soon as your bladder is full—basically, distension or fullness is what gives you the feeling that you have to urinate. When you have the urge to go regardless of how much urine is in your bladder, it is a sign that something is going on in the pelvic floor, the bladder, or the nervous connection between these systems. “Sitting for a long time does not help anything, which is why daily exercises and programs to strengthen the hips, core, groin, and pelvic floor are very important,” says Dr. Fosnight.
5. Mental health struggles amid COVID-19 have left many bladders in a state of chronic depression.
It’s no secret that this pandemic has been very difficult for people emotionally. These mental health effects can range from increased anxiety and depression to more serious conditions such as OCD, Schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders. The aforementioned delays in care can and have made it difficult to manage worsening mental health symptoms, and access to treatment is increasingly difficult from a cost and access perspective.
“Believe it or not, your mental health and physical health are actually related, and some physical stressors affect people differently,” says Dr. Fosnight. “For example, anxiety and stress can put the body in fight-or-flight mode, which increases your heart rate and increases the rate at which your bladder fills and urinates. This can increase how often you urinate, as well as put your body in a state of to urinate. a constant state of distress.”
In general, these effects that the epidemic has placed on people are largely beyond the control of the individual. Most people are stressed about keeping their jobs, so it is not necessary to have the option to exercise all day. Some people have children or family members who are at risk, so seeking incontinence treatment is worthless in the face of danger. The fatigue that has ravaged the health care industry like wildfire has made it harder to get care for those who do it have the time, money, insurance benefits, and energy to seek treatment. Hopefully, however, there are small things you can do and remember to protect your bladder and overall health as we continue to endure the ongoing pandemic.