Holding your pee: Health risks from ignoring nature’s call

When you gotta go, you gotta go–and for your health, that’s an important thing to keep in mind.

When you gotta go, you gotta go–and for your health, that’s an important thing to keep in mind.

When sitting in a meeting or trying to get through emails, the thought of nature calling probably isn’t one of your priorities. Or rather, it might be top of mind, but you feel embarrassed using the office bathroom. Experts tell us, however, that taking care of our kidneys means knowing when they’re entering the danger zone.

An average bladder has the capacity to hold about 15 ounces of liquid (eight glasses of water), and holding in your urine for a long period of time can stretch your bladder.

The automatic feedback mechanism in the bladder sends a signal to the brain when it’s full, which then urges you to get to the nearest toilet. But if you keep yourself from peeing often, your body might lose the ability to know when it’s time to go, says Dr Chamandeep Bali, a naturopathic doctor at the Toronto Naturopathic Health Clinic. And that’s not the only concern.

“The longer you hold your urine, the bladder can become a breeding ground for bacteria to grow,” Dr Bali says. This bacteria can lead to infections, which can spread to kidneys and cause greater damage to the body.

However, sometimes it really can be difficult to find the time to go. School teachers and crane operators are two professions who often use the washroom fewer times than other occupations, according to Dr Michael Robinette, a urologist at Toronto General Hospital.

Meanwhile, there also seems to be a gender imbalance. Dr Mark Gordon, a urolgist at the Suncoast Medical Clinic in St. Petersburg, Florida says women are more likely to hold their urine due to hygiene concerns–and let’s face it ladies, sometimes finding that seat cover or squatting over a public toilet is more of a pain than it’s worth.

But whether it means keeping a close eye on the restroom door to make sure it’s unoccupied or keeping a personal roll of toilet paper with you, it’s important to make sure you get to the toilet.

“A ‘normal’ urination rate is eight to 10 times a day,” Dr Gordon says.

And if your stage fright for going becomes really problematic, just add water. It might sound like an old wifes’ tale, but according to Dr Robinette, “some people find that when you turn on the tap, it makes you pass your urine.”

 

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