Tips for Keeping Your Urinary System Healthy

There are are a few simple habits you can adopt that may reduce the risk of problems developing in your urinary tract, including urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and chronic UTIs.

1

Stay hydrated

woman drinking glass of water
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Most healthy people should drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water over the course of the day. The water you drink gets filtered through your kidneys and then collects in your bladder until you feel the urge to urinate.

When you don't drink enough water the urine in the bladder can become concentrated, which can lead to strong smells or irritate the bladder and make you go more often. The concentrated urine can cause burning when you urinate, and increase your risk of bladder infections or kidney stones.

People who are prone to infections or kidney stones may benefit from drinking 10 to 12 glasses of water a day. Talk to your doctor if you have any heart or kidney issues; in this case, drinking too much water might not be advised.

2

Go Easy on the Salt (Which Makes You Retain Water)

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Too much salt in your diet keeps the salt/mineral/water balance in your kidneys off kilter. A high-sodium diet has been associated with elevated blood pressure. Long-term, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage. A high-salt diet may also contribute to the development of kidney stones. In fact, many people think that calcium stones are the result of eating too much calcium.

Paying attention to sodium labels on processed foods and reducing intake of canned soups and vegetables, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and sausages, may help you lower your risk for developing calcium-based kidney stones.

According to the CDC, Americans should consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. The average is much higher, with many people consuming more than 3,400 mg each day. Most of this salt is hidden in foods such as canned soups, processed meats, hot dogs, chips, and cereal.

3

Consider Reducing your Caffeine Intake

woman pouring boiling water into a french press to make coffee
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Drinking caffeinated beverages may irritate your bladder and serve as a diuretic (increase your need to urinate by making more urine). The more caffeine you drink, the more you may have to urinate.

Too much caffeine can also result in dehydration, which can increase your risk of kidney stones, bladder infections, and other problems. There is some evidence that women with interstitial cystitis, also known as IC, should avoid caffeine.

4

Drink Extra Water When Exposed to Sun or During Exercise

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You lose water through perspiration on hot, sunny days and when you are doing aerobic activities. As a result, you need more water than you would ordinarily if you are sedentary.

5

Urinate and Clean Yourself Before and After Sex

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Bacteria can travel up into the urinary tract during sex, increasing your risk of urinary tract infections.

Urinating shortly after sex and wiping yourself has been shown to reduce the odds you will develop an infection.

Urinary tract infections occur more often in women after sex in women because they have shorter urethras than men. That makes it easy for bacteria to go up into the urinary tract (but not every woman gets infections).

Though rare, men can get urinary tract infections too and they can transmit pathogens to women as well. The groin is a major source of bacteria so men should clean their groin area as part of good personal hygiene.

6

Wipe From Front to Back If You're a Woman

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The anus and rectum have a lot of bacteria. Wiping from front to back ensures that you don't bring the bacteria into contact with the vagina, resulting in urinary tract infections.

7

Listen to your bladder

Your bladder is made of muscle that expands when it fills and contracts when it's time to empty. It's best not to wait too long to urinate, which, over time, can stretch your bladder Future problems could include incomplete emptying, recurrent infections, and urine traveling all the way up to the kidneys.

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  1. Lohsiriwat S, Hirunsai M, Chaiyaprasithi B. Effect of caffeine on bladder function in patients with overactive bladder symptoms. Urol Ann. 2011;3(1):14–18. doi: 10.4103/0974-7796.75862