Back to school….and back to bladder dysfunction
Working full time at a pelvic floor specialty clinic and seeing over 50 patients per week, I start to notice trends. One is a common theme of teachers having bladder dysfunction. As I ask them about how everything started, there’s usually common threads. Watching a classroom full of children, it’s hard to take breaks. Finding someone to cover your class is challenging and feels selfish, so teachers become accustomed to holding their bladders and bowels for hours and hours- sometimes a full school day. Drinking coffee all morning to keep you alert for battling a swarming mob of tiny people covered in glue also ends up causing bladder irritation, making those feelings of needing to go more urgent and more frequent. Often times, the resultant symptoms are bladder frequency, urgency, and urine leakage when feeling the urge to go. When the body is used to holding and holding, constipation can also result. And when trying to rush in and out of the bathroom after hours of holding, the bladder may have a difficulty starting the stream, urine may come out intermittently, and it may feel difficult to empty fully. If you’re really not emptying, you can end up with recurrent urinary tract infections.
The framework of the school day isn’t going away, so what can be done? For one, try to drink only still water. I know this may make the day seem insurmountable, but think of how much easier the school day will be if you don’t feel like you’re constantly having to pee all the time. When you do have a break and you feel like you have to urinate, take the opportunity and take your time. Sit down, lean forward, take big deep belly breaths. Give yourself 10 seconds more than you think you need. All of these tactics can help the bladder to be more willing to empty easily and effectively. Finally, keep your bowels healthy. The more easily and regularly you’re passing stool, the happier your bladder will be. Try a squatty potty, eat nutrient rich foods, and stay hydrated.
If you find yourself suffering with any of the above symptoms, teacher or not, find a pelvic floor physical therapist that can work with you to normalize bladder function. There’s a much simpler, happier life out there to live when you’re not tethered to the bathroom.
Christina McGee PT, DPT is a physical therapist at Sullivan Physical Therapy, a pelvic floor specialty clinic in Austin, Texas. She received a bachelor of science in Athletic Training from University of Iowa and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from University of Delaware. Christina treats men and women with bladder, bowel, and... Read More