WHAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL?
The average bladder can hold between 16-20 oz of urine before it needs to be emptied. The normal voiding interval is every 3 hours or 5-7x daily and 0x at night . As we get older, our bladder capacity can decrease and we may need to pass urine more frequently but usually not more than every 2 to 2.5 hours (and 1x/night above the age of 60).
Urine should flow easily without discomfort or force in a steady stream until the bladder is empty. No pushing or straining is necessary to empty the bladder. An urge is a signal that you feel as the bladder stretches to fill with urine. Urges can be felt even if the bladder is not full. They are merely signals letting the brain know it’s filling up but are not commands to go to the toilet and they can be controlled.
WHAT ARE GOOD BLADDER HABITS?
Take your time when emptying your bladder. Don’t strain or push to empty your bladder. Make sure you empty your bladder completely each time you pass urine by not rushing the process. Consistently ignoring the urge to go (waiting more than 3 hours between toileting) or urinating too frequently may be convenient but not healthy for your bladder.
Avoid going to the toilet “just in case” or more often than every 3 hours. It is usually not necessary to go when you feel the first urge. Try to go only when your bladder is full. Urgency and frequency of urination can be improved by retraining the bladder and spacing your fluid intake throughout the day water and removing bladder irritants from your diet such as caffeine, alcohol, and citrus.
TIPS TO MAINTAIN GOOD BLADDER HABITS
Maintain proper fluid intake. Drink 4-6 oz every hour, sipping it slowly throughout the day. Not enough fluid creates a foul odor and dark color of the urine. However clear urine is not recommended either; urine should be a pale yellow. Clear urine is a sign that you are flooding the kidneys and bladder and not absorbing the water. This can occur by either drinking too much water too quickly or by having a diuretic in your system such as caffeine or alcohol.
Limit the amount of acidic (coffee, cola, chocolate or tea, including decaffeinated options) and citrus foods that you consume as these foods can be associated with increased sensation of urinary urgency and frequency. Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics and increase urine production, making it difficult for the brain to coordinate bladder control. See the list of common Bladder Irritants.
Avoid constipation by maintaining a balanced diet of dietary fiber. ‘Heavy bowels’ will increase urge and frequency by placing pressure on the bladder. See Constipation and What is Normal for more information on bowel health.