Dear Dr Nina: Is it bad for your health to hold your wee?
Dr Nina Byrnes offers advice in her weekly column.
The urinary tract acts as a drainage system to help the body rid itself of toxins and excess fluid. Urine is produced in the kidney, travels down a tube called the ureter to the bladder where it is stored until a person decides to pass urine. It then travels from the bladder down another tube called the urethra and out of the body. Urine is normally sterile.
It is important to pass urine when the urge occurs and avoid resisting the urge to go. It is also important for healthy functioning of the urinary tract that the kidneys are flushed with plenty of fluids and that the bladder empties regularly.Passing urine after intercourse will also help flush out any bacteria that may have entered the body.
If we don’t look after the urinary tract one of the most common complications is a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTI’s are the second most common type of infection in the body and left untreated, serious UTI’s can cause infection of the blood and kidney failure.
If you have a UTI you may feel the urge to urinate more frequently but only pass a small amount. There may be pain or stinging passing your urine and it may even appear cloudy, foul smelling or blood tinged. Other symptoms include back pain, fever, nausea or pressure or pain in the abdomen. In pregnant women, the elderly or children symptoms may be very vague, but still may require a trip to the GP to rule out infections.
Resisting the urge to pass urine may, over time, affects the nerve response in the bladder leading to an over or underactive bladder. This ultimately may lead to ‘urge incontinence’. As with most things in health, prevention is the best way. So drink plenty and wee often.