Recognise the symptoms of common urologic diseases

By Island Hospital   |   11.10.2019

Have you noticed yourself going to the toilet more than usual? Or are you experiencing pain whenever you urinate and see traces of blood in it? If you have answered yes to these questions, you may be having a urological disease.

Urologic diseases are ailments that usually affect the ureters, bladder, and kidneys. While it affects both men and women, there are some conditions that occur only in a particular gender (e.g. prostate cancer). In order to quickly diagnose and resolve any possible urological diseases, here are some of the common types and its symptoms that you should look out for.

Kidney stones
Kidney stones are formed inside the kidney and comprises of uric acid or calcium, culminating into lumps of hardened salt and minerals which can travel to other parts of the urinary tract. When you do not drink enough water, your urine becomes more concentrated with certain minerals, increasing the risk of kidney stones. They can come in different sizes – from as small as a full stop to as big as occupying the entire kidney. While some kidney stones will exit the body without needing any treatment, others can cause unbearable pain and require surgical intervention. The symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Pain in the back, belly, or side
  • Pain or burning sensation during urination
  • Urgent and frequent trips to the toilet
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy/smelly urine
  • Urinating in small amounts
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills

Prostate cancer 

Known as one of the most common kind of cancer in men, prostate cancer takes place in the prostate, a walnut-shaped gland that is responsible for nourishing and transporting sperm. In most cases, the growth is confined only within the prostate and does not cause major harm. However, certain kinds of prostate cancer have the potential to become more pervasive and life-threatening. Therefore, early detection of prostate cancer is the key in determining the chances of a successful treatment. Other factors that increase one’s risk for this disease also include age, family history, and obesity. In its early stage, prostate cancer does not manifest any symptoms; as it gradually moves onto an advanced stage, some of the symptoms are:

  • Having trouble urinating
  • Pain while urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Blood in sperm
  • Constipation
  • Dripping urine
  • Prolonged lower back pain

Urinary tract infection (UTI) 

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a type of disease that primarily affects the lower urinary tract, which consists of the bladder and urethra. It is more prominent in women than men due to the fact that women have a shorter urethea (a tube that transports urine from the bladder), allowing bacteria such as E.coli to have quicker access to the bladder from the anus. If left untreated, the bacteria will make its way all the way to the kidneys, causing serious damage. Even activities such as sexual intercourse can also encourage bacteria to attack the urethra. The best way to avoid getting an UTI is to thoroughly clean from front to back after using the washroom and drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria from your body. The main symptoms of UTI are:

  • Persistent urges to urinate
  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Small, frequent periods of urination
  • Cloudy/smelly urine
  • Blood-tinged urine
  • Pelvic pain

If your kidneys or bladder are infected, further symptoms may surface such as high fever, nausea, vomiting, and lower abdominal pain.

Interstitial Cystitis
This is a condition where you experience pain or pressure at the bladder, along with urges to rush to the toilet more than usual. Under normal circumstances, the bladder will expand until it has reached its full capacity and proceeds to send signals to the brain to release urine from the body. However, when interstitial cystitis comes into the picture, these signals get ‘confused’ and as a result, you may find yourself having the urge to urinate often, but only in small volumes. Interstitial cystitis commonly affects women and can bring about long-lasting impacts on the quality of life. Among the symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:

  • Pain between the genital areas
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Constant urges to urinate
  • Frequent urination (in small volumes) throughout the day and night
  • Pain or discomfort when the bladder contains and releases urine
  • Pain during sexual intercourse

While there is currently no known cure, the good news is there are ways in which you can help prevent an early onset of urological diseases. Here are six practical steps you can take to achieve this:

  • Drink lots of water It may seem like a simple task for most people, but staying constantly hydrated is one of the best ways in preventing kidney stones from forming as waste products is flushed out of your body through consistent and healthy urination
  • Drink cranberry juice Multiple studies have proven that pure, unsweetened cranberry juice helps play a role in preventing UTIs in people of any age group as it is packed with antioxidants. It has also been suggested that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice aids in the prevention of prostate cancer as well.
  • Cut down salt intake While it is impossible to completely eliminate salt from your diet, limiting the intake of foods high in salt does help in the long run as too much sodium will cause the level of minerals and other compounds in your body to be imbalanced, potentially leading to the formation of kidney stones.
  • Reduce caffeine intake Caffeine found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks often acts as a diuretic and may irritate the bladder. As such, avoid drinks high in caffeine or opt for decaffeinated beverages instead.
  • Quit smoking Aside from constricting oxygen flow in your lungs, smoking has also been strongly identified as a contributor to bladder cancer, kidney stones, and interstitial cystitis. Getting rid of your smoking habit decreases your chances of suffering these diseases.
  • Exercise regularly A lack of exercise and an unhealthy weight has been associated with an increased risk of kidney stones and prostate cancer. If you are not a physically active person, sticking to an intense exercise plan may be overwhelming. Start off with simple exercises such as swimming, cycling, and yoga as it helps to strengthen the primary stomach muscles, which in turn will relieve pressure on the bladder. However, avoid exercises that will strain your pelvic area like jumping jacks and heavy weightlifting.

Through these steps along with the commitment to protect and strengthen your urinary tract system, you can be sure that you are on the track to living a life free of urologic diseases.  


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