Why do bladder problems seem worse in winter?
Why do bladder problems often seem worse in the winter? Why can going from the warm out into the cold result in an urge to urinate? Why can incontinence issues seem worse after a night out, a few glasses of wine, a couple of pints of beer or a party? And do men suffer more than women? Benenden Hospital Urologist Steve Garnett has all the answers …
“It is a fact that urinary symptoms do get worse in the cold weather. As we sweat less and lose less fluid through sweating we produce more urine instead. So there will be a need to pee more. For most people this isn’t a problem but for some it can start to affect their daily lives and it is at this point that they should seek medical advice,” according to Mr Garnett.
Steve Garnett is the lead Urologist at Benenden Hospital. He said there is always an influx of patients with urinary symptoms over the winter period and especially in the new year.
He said: “It is not only cold weather which can exacerbate problems, drinking alcohol at Christmas and new year parties and at work parties will also make things worse.
“Alcohol, tea, coffee, energy drinks and all caffeinated drinks can all aggravate the bladder.
“People should be careful and not have excessive amounts of alcohol. If someone already has a problem they could tip themselves over the edge into not being able to pass urine at all. In the new year we do see some people who need to have catheters.”
The amount of men and women who suffer with urinary symptoms is roughly even, but women are much more likely to seek help at an earlier stage.
Mr Garnett said: “Men are more likely to suffer in silence. They are not so good at talking about their health problems. Often it is their wives or girlfriends who persuade them to see a doctor, as they are fed up with being woken up several times during the night, or they find it is affecting their lives too.
“Men can start to worry about prostate cancer if they have an increased need to urinate, if they strain while urinating or feel that their bladder has not fully emptied. These symptoms should not be ignored, but they do not mean that someone definitely has prostate cancer. It is more likely that they are caused by something else, such as benign prostate enlargement.
“If you feel your urinary symptoms are getting worse or disrupting your life you should seek professional advice. It might be that you are tired all day because you have had to get up to pee several times during the night, or you might find that you don’t want to go out to places if you don’t know where the toilets are. You might avoid the cinema or the theatre as you worry that you won’t be able to sit through an entire film or play.”
Mr Garnett’s advice is to seek professional help sooner rather than later. Often urinary symptoms can be easily solved. Sometimes the solution is as simple as watching what you drink.