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National Health Observances

Bladder Health for Older Adults

What Can Affect Bladder Health?


Many things can affect bladder health. You can’t control everything that affects bladder health, but there are many bladder health behaviors that you can control. Here are some things that may affect your bladder health.


  • ConstipationConstipationcan cause too much stool to build up in the colon, which can put pressure on the bladder and keep it from expanding the way it should.
  • DiabetesDiabetescan damage nerves around the bladder that help with control.
  • Being overweight.People who are overweight may be at higher risk for leaking urine.
  • Low physical activity.Physical activity can help prevent bladder problems, as well as constipation. It can also help you keep a healthy weight.
  • Bladder problems are more common among people who smoke. Smoking can also increase the risk for bladder cancer.
  • Some medicines. Some medicinesmay make it more likely for your bladder to leak urine. For example, medicines that calm your nerves so you can sleep or relax may dull the nerves in the bladder, and you may not feel the urge to go to the bathroom.
  • For many people, drinking alcohol can make bladder problems worse.
  • Caffeine can bother the bladder and change how your bladder tells you when you need to urinate.
  • Some people with bladder problems find that some foods and drinks, such as sodas, artificial sweeteners, spicy foods, citrus fruits and juices, and tomato-based foods, make the problem worse. People who have bladder problems may feel better when they don’t eat these foods and drinks.
  • Pelvic Injury.Trauma—such as prostate surgery, childbirth, or sexual assault—can damage the muscles and nerves that help control the bladder.

Some activities can increase the risk of urinary tract infections, including:


  • Having sex. Sexual activity can move bacteria from the bowel or vaginal cavity to the urethral opening. Urinating after sex lowers the risk of infection.
  • Using a catheter to urinate. A catheter is a tube placed in the urethra and bladder to help empty the bladder. The catheter can make a direct path for bacteria to reach the bladder.
  • Using certain types of birth control. Diaphragms can bring bacteria with them when they are placed. Spermicides (a birth control that kills sperm) may also make UTIs more likely.