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Let it Flow

04/29/2011 05:59AM ● Published by Style

“Mommy, I have to go pee-pee!” This is probably one of the first phrases you learned as a toddler.

We become aware of our urine very early in life, and it’s not a bad idea to keep that awareness throughout life.

THE COLOR

Urine is composed of excess water and waste products that your kidneys filter from your blood. Normal urine color ranges from pale yellow to amber. The color comes from a pigment called urochrome and depends on how diluted the urine is. Discolored urine can be the result of medications, foods, or food dyes, and is often temporary and harmless.

However, certain health issues can also cause changes in urine color. Pink or red urine is the most common color change that can signal problems due to the presence of red blood cells. Often the bleeding isn’t severe and occurs without other signs or symptoms. Causes of urinary blood range from strenuous exercise, a urinary tract infection, and an enlarged prostate, to kidney or bladder stones, kidney disease and cancer. “Blood in the urine can mean so many different things. If you see blood in your urine, get to your doctor to have it investigated,” says Dr. Kaushik Desai, MD, a urologist in Cameron Park, who is affiliated with Marshall Medical Center.

PAIN WHILE URINATING

The most common cause of difficulty urinating is infection. “See your doctor if you have pain or burning when you urinate,” says Desai. “This could signal a urinary tract infection which needs to be evaluated and treated.” Other symptoms of infection can be a strong, persistent urge to urinate, fever, chills or sweats, abdominal pain that comes in waves, or strong-smelling urine. Antibiotics are the standard treatment for urinary infections.

FEMALE URINARY PROBLEMS

Kidney stones and urinary incontinence are the most common urinary issues in women. The first line of treatment for kidney stones is drinking large amounts of water and staying active. If this doesn’t work, your doctor will likely use a shock wave procedure to break the stone into small pieces, or recommend surgery to remove the stone.

It is estimated that 30 percent of women ages 30-60 experience urinary incontinence. “Although not much can be done to prevent urinary incontinence, dietary changes such as decreasing protein and salt in your diet and increasing fluid and citrate reduce the risk of kidney stones,” says David S. Yee, MD, MPH, of the Department of Urology at Sutter Health.

MALE URINARY PROBLEMS

“Enlarged prostate and prostate cancer are the two most common urinary health issues in men,” says Yee. An enlarged prostate gland is very common as men get older. If untreated, it can block the flow of urine and cause problems. Treatments include medications, lifestyle changes and surgery.

American males have about a 30 percent chance of developing prostate cancer. All men should have an annual PSA test from their doctor, as early diagnosis results in a greatly increased chance of treatment success. New medical advances are lessening the threat of this common male cancer; only about three percent of men are at risk of dying from the disease.

So, pay attention to your “pee.” No need to obsess – even though potty training may have left some scars on your psyche! Awareness can be the first step in avoiding serious health concerns.

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