Why do bladder problems often seem worse in cold weather? Why can going from a cosy, warm room 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? Our Consultant Urologist Mr Steve Garnett has some answers to the most commonly-asked questions.
Why do we urinate more in cold weather?
Steve Garnett is the lead Consultant Urologist at Benenden Hospital. According to Mr Garnett, there's always an influx of patients with urinary symptoms over the winter period and especially in the new year.
“It's a fact that urinary symptoms do get worse in the cold weather. As we tend to sweat less and, as a result 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 their overactive bladder can start to affect their daily lives. It's at this point that they should seek medical advice from their GP or a Consultant Urologist” according to Mr Garnett.
What else can cause bladder problems?
It's not only cold weather which can affect your bladder and start to cause problems. Drinking alcohol at Christmas and new year parties or at work parties will also make things worse. Alcohol, tea, coffee, energy drinks and all caffeinated drinks, including tea, coffee and cola, can all aggravate the bladder.
Mr Garnett believes that people should be careful over the festive season, resist temptation and not drink 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 a catheter inserted."
Are men or women more likely to suffer from bladder problems?
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.
“Men are more likely to suffer in silence" he says. "They're not so good at talking about their health problems. Often it's their spouse or partner who persuades them to see a doctor, as they're fed up with being woken up several times during the night. In some cases, they find that it's 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 hasn't fully emptied after each visit to the toilet. These symptoms should not be ignored, but they don't mean that someone definitely has prostate cancer. It's more likely that they are caused by something else, such as benign prostate enlargement (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) which can be treated with a Urolift® procedure at Benenden Hospital."
What can I do if bladder problems are affecting my life?
“If you feel that your urinary symptoms are getting worse, or disrupting your life, you should seek professional advice as soon as possible. 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, or for a drive in your car, as you worry that you won’t be able to sit through an entire film or play or be able to find a toilet en route.”
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.
Published on 03 February 2020