Is Your Bladder Trying to Tell You Something?

8 cues that you might have a urinary system problem
Senior couple enjoying a cycle ride together

We use the bathroom every day without thinking much about it -- but sometimes it's worth paying closer attention. The bladder is an organ that can reveal plenty about your inner health. What's yours saying to you?

Listen to the following common messages from the bladder. All warrant checking in with your doctor, who might also refer you to a urologist (specialist in the urinary tract). These symptoms can be critical to diagnosing many treatable urinary problems and urinary incontinence.

Going to the bathroom too often?

How often is too often, considering that the average adult voids about a quart and a half of urine a day? Most doctors consider more than eight trips to the bathroom in a day as a sign of an overactive bladder, also called urge incontinence.

Even if you can't produce much, it's the frequency of desire that's a red flag. For some people, frequent bathroom stops can become an obsessive habit (like frequent hand washing or hair brushing), but with urge incontinence, you feel you physically must go.

More bladder symptoms to watch for

Gotta go . . . NOW?

When the urge to find a bathroom immediately is overwhelming -- whether or not anything actually comes out once you do -- doctors usually also suspect overactive bladder. Another common sign: Worrying about finding a restroom "in time," or (sometimes seen in older adults or those with dementia), beginning to unzip en route.

Feeling the burn?

A burning sensation while urinating is one of the top symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) in both women and men. What's more, this symptom is probably not just in your imagination: UTIs are the second most common kind of infection in the body, though they're more common in women.

Sometimes, but not always, the burning is accompanied by pain. For women, there may also be a sense of fullness or pressure above the pubic bone; men sometimes notice a sense of fullness in the rectum. Fever, fatigue, and abdominal pain are other signs to watch for.

More bladder symptoms to watch for

Strange stream?

After age 40, some men notice that their urinary stream becomes weak, dribbles, or is easily interrupted. "Hesitant" is the adjective doctors sometimes use. When this symptom is accompanied by a more frequent need to urinate (or to try to urinate), especially at night, or a need to "go" suddenly, prostate problems are often to blame.

More than half of men in their 60s begin to experience these lower-urinary-tract symptoms.

Being awakened by the urge to pee?

Maybe you just drank too much last night, if you're up at 2 a.m. stumbling to the toilet. But if your bladder awakens you twice or more per night or this happens routinely (symptoms known as nocturia), there's likely another underlying problem: overactive bladder.

This strong and sudden need to urinate -- so strong it can awaken you from sleep -- may be followed by a leakage of urine before you make it to the bathroom.

More bladder symptoms to watch for

Leaking when you laugh? (Or lift? Or cough?)

Bladders reserve some special messages for women: If you lose a few drops (or more) of urine when you exert yourself physically, even doing something as minor as laughing hard or sneezing, you've got stress incontinence.

Stress incontinence isn't an inevitable consequence of childbirth or aging, though these experiences can raise your risk. Stress incontinence is caused by a weakening of the muscles and nerves that help hold or release urine. It can worsen the week before your period, and it sometimes gets worse after menopause due to hormonal changes.

Leaking during sex?

More than half of all sexually active women with bladder control problems also experience sexual difficulties. It's common for women with bladder control problems to urinate upon penetration, or to leak or even empty their bladder upon reaching orgasm. Not surprisingly, some women begin to avoid intimacy altogether out of embarrassment.

Urge incontinence can cause the bladder to empty at all sorts of inopportune times. For some people, the mere sound of running water starts the process. Malfunctioning nerve signals are often a root cause.

More bladder symptoms to watch for

Seeing red?

Urine -- the mix of water and waste that the blood and kidneys have filtered -- isn't one single hue. Normal urine can range in color from palest amber to muddy merlot. The color of one's output depends on a range of factors, including how much liquid you drink, the natural or color or artificial dyes in the food you eat, and medications you take.

Seeing blood in the urine, which may appear as a pink or red spot or eddy, always warrants mentioning immediately to a doctor. The cause is often something as benign as a urinary tract infection or leftover menses, but it can also flag a more serious health issue.

Urine that suddenly turns very dark should also be mentioned to a doctor. Dark brown may signal a liver problem, for example, and dark orange indicates dehydration.

Another red flag: urine with a strong odor. (It's usually odorless.)

over 3 years ago, said...

I meant vesicare. Thanks I meant vesicare. Thanks Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

I've recently lost my medical benefits is there an over the counter herbal medicine that can be used for leaky bladder syndrome? I've used vesicle for years now. I've recently lost my medical benefits is there an over the counter herbal medicine that can be used for leaky bladder syndrome? I've used vesicle for years now. Hide

about 4 years ago, said...

Description of symptoms gave me the knowledge that I need to talk to doctor about. Thought leakage was only due to childbearing weakening muscles. Description of symptoms gave me the knowledge that I need to talk to doctor about. Thought leakage was only due to childbearing weakening muscles. Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

i had leaking that i dealt with for years, not to mention havinf to pee every 40 minutes or less. i had my bladder put in a sling and that stopped the leaks. nothing at all worked for over active bladder, i tried all the meds on the market. after a car wreck and a spinal MRI my specialist found my bladder problem. i have spina bifida occulta !! a double spinal cord in my L5.. that was why none of the meds worked, it wasnt the bladder, it was the signals from my deformed spinal cored. so,... Show more i had leaking that i dealt with for years, not to mention havinf to pee every 40 minutes or less. i had my bladder put in a sling and that stopped the leaks. nothing at all worked for over active bladder, i tried all the meds on the market. after a car wreck and a spinal MRI my specialist found my bladder problem. i have spina bifida occulta !! a double spinal cord in my L5.. that was why none of the meds worked, it wasnt the bladder, it was the signals from my deformed spinal cored. so, if you ladies find nothing helps pill wise, get an MRI AND A SPINAL SPECIALIST. it could be related to spinal problems you dont know you have!! i have finnally gotten relief from going constantly because of the meds i am on for my spine. Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

This is me ! When I have one of those episodes I'm totally miserable the next day. I try to watch my liquid intake and now that I know about which type of fruits and fruit drinks can cause problems I'll be writing down in a journal so I can try not to go through nocturia. This is me ! When I have one of those episodes I'm totally miserable the next day. I try to watch my liquid intake and now that I know about which type of fruits and fruit drinks can cause problems I'll be writing down in a journal so I can try not to go through nocturia. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

informative. informative. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

the overview of bladder problems the overview of bladder problems Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Thanks. I'm 69, and no doctor has bothered to provide the information you have... Show more Thanks. I'm 69, and no doctor has bothered to provide the information you have... Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Mentioning that IC can be the cause of nearly ALL of these symptoms...this is a misunderstood disease and more common than most people think. Because it causes so much pain and suffering and is so hard to diagnose many people suffer for a long time before finding a doctor who is both knowledgeable and compassionate. Unfortunately much of the suffering is caused by ignorant and misinformed doctors, who either misdiagnose the condition or fail to believe their patients. So it is important to... Show more Mentioning that IC can be the cause of nearly ALL of these symptoms...this is a misunderstood disease and more common than most people think. Because it causes so much pain and suffering and is so hard to diagnose many people suffer for a long time before finding a doctor who is both knowledgeable and compassionate. Unfortunately much of the suffering is caused by ignorant and misinformed doctors, who either misdiagnose the condition or fail to believe their patients. So it is important to inform people that this condition exists and is serious and needs to be addressed as such. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

This article fails to mention that many of these bladder symptoms can caused by a chronic pain condition called IC (Interstitial Cystitis). IC is an under-diagnosed condition of the bladder that often causes unbearable pain/pressure, nocturia, urgency/frequency, and a burning sensations (much like with a UTI) during urination. It is a chronic pain condition that has no known cause or cure, only treatments that are frequently touch-and-go in nature, meaning that they do not work for every... Show more This article fails to mention that many of these bladder symptoms can caused by a chronic pain condition called IC (Interstitial Cystitis). IC is an under-diagnosed condition of the bladder that often causes unbearable pain/pressure, nocturia, urgency/frequency, and a burning sensations (much like with a UTI) during urination. It is a chronic pain condition that has no known cause or cure, only treatments that are frequently touch-and-go in nature, meaning that they do not work for every person. Often IC is misdiagnosed and under-treated in the medical community. Tragically it takes on average an individual 5 years or more to reach a positive diagnosis, and often during this diagnosis phase an individual is not properly treated for the pain and the other troubling symptoms of IC. Indeed, IC is capable of causing pain in the same league as cancer and end stage renal failure. Unfortunately because of a general lack of awareness on the part of physicians IC sufferers are often made to think that their symptoms are psychosomatic in nature (all in their heads) or that they are overreacting or faking an illness in order to obtain narcotics. Sadly, many people with IC cannot work full time, have difficulty with sexual relations, suffer from under-treated pain, and are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than a person without IC. And while IC is not a fatal disease, it does deserve more attention and dedicated research because it ruins so many lives. Hopefully my post will bring some attention to the fact that this disease does exist, it is under-treated and misdiagnosed, and it is a disease that we as a society need to be more aware of and treat seriously. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Very helpful and informative article. Very helpful and informative article. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Hi kay fritsch, Thank you very much for your comment. If you would like to learn more about overactive bladder symptoms and treatments, please visit our overactive bladder topic center, here: ( http://www.caring.com/overactive-bladder ). I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hi kay fritsch, Thank you very much for your comment. If you would like to learn more about overactive bladder symptoms and treatments, please visit our overactive bladder topic center, here: ( http://www.caring.com/overactive-bladder ). I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

It would have been more helpful if you had given suggestions as to what to do about an over-active bladder. Also, it would have been helpful if you had stated what else could cause some of the symtoms you listed. It would have been more helpful if you had given suggestions as to what to do about an over-active bladder. Also, it would have been helpful if you had stated what else could cause some of the symtoms you listed. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Hello prostate, Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hello prostate, Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

I always feel overwhelmed with an urge to urinate but it comes out slowly and little volume. can any one help me with medical advice and solution. Thank you in anticipation I always feel overwhelmed with an urge to urinate but it comes out slowly and little volume. can any one help me with medical advice and solution. Thank you in anticipation Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

If bladder is not damage from labor, frequent urination is cause by weakness in kidney which usually degrade with age, but can be treat & cure without side effect using herbs. You can try the lycium tea pill (Goji berry formula) -has 8 herbs . If bladder is not damage from labor, frequent urination is cause by weakness in kidney which usually degrade with age, but can be treat & cure without side effect using herbs. You can try the lycium tea pill (Goji berry formula) -has 8 herbs . Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Thanks Emily M- I know you cant dignos a problem, was thinking maybe some one may have the same problem & could give me some info. Thanks for telling me where to look. That will help me. God bless you! Thanks Emily M- I know you cant dignos a problem, was thinking maybe some one may have the same problem & could give me some info. Thanks for telling me where to look. That will help me. God bless you! Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Hi ROSE A, Thank you for your question. Have you even been check for having an overactive bladder? (http://www.caring.com/overactive-bladder). Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hi ROSE A, Thank you for your question. Have you even been check for having an overactive bladder? (http://www.caring.com/overactive-bladder). Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Why do I wake up several times during the night to use the rest room? I will sit on the toilet anywhere from 45 minuts to an hour just to get a few dribbles. this also happens during the day. I drink plenty of water, constantly thirsty. I was wondering if any one could help with an answer, or is there another site to read? So very tired, cant sleep due the strong urge to use the bathroom that Im awaken every hour or if Im lucky 2 hours. Please help my Dr isnt doing any thing about it. Why do I wake up several times during the night to use the rest room? I will sit on the toilet anywhere from 45 minuts to an hour just to get a few dribbles. this also happens during the day. I drink plenty of water, constantly thirsty. I was wondering if any one could help with an answer, or is there another site to read? So very tired, cant sleep due the strong urge to use the bathroom that Im awaken every hour or if Im lucky 2 hours. Please help my Dr isnt doing any thing about it. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

I have had maney qustions abot the bladder .Thankyou for having these comments about said topic.would like to see somthing on bowelmovements that occur when stress apears. I have had maney qustions abot the bladder .Thankyou for having these comments about said topic.would like to see somthing on bowelmovements that occur when stress apears. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

I find this article very helpful ,and thanks to those who initiated it & the medical team.The readers are most grateful. more grease to your elbow!(but dont soil your dress) I find this article very helpful ,and thanks to those who initiated it & the medical team.The readers are most grateful. more grease to your elbow!(but dont soil your dress) Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Good info to have. My mom suffers from UTIs. Reinforces everything I've been telling her about her water intake! I'll print it out for her. Thank you. Good info to have. My mom suffers from UTIs. Reinforces everything I've been telling her about her water intake! I'll print it out for her. Thank you. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Hi birdseed, Thank you for your comment. There are many reasons for a "leaky" or overactive bladder. One article you may find helpful is 5 Ways to Fix a Leaky Bladder Without Surgery ( http://www.caring.com/articles/bladder-leakage ). I hope that helps! Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hi birdseed, Thank you for your comment. There are many reasons for a "leaky" or overactive bladder. One article you may find helpful is 5 Ways to Fix a Leaky Bladder Without Surgery ( http://www.caring.com/articles/bladder-leakage ). I hope that helps! Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

What about a prolapsed bladder causing constant urgency. Had 6 kids vaginally. What about a prolapsed bladder causing constant urgency. Had 6 kids vaginally. Hide

almost 5 years ago, said...

Hello anonymous, Thank you very much for your question. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hello anonymous, Thank you very much for your question. Unfortunately, we are unable to diagnose medical problems for our site members, or provide medical guidance online. While members of our community may respond to your question, we recommend that you contact a doctor offline regarding this medical issue. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager Hide