The Hidden Health Cost of Teaching: Urology
Early warning signs and prevention tips to maintain a healthy bladderBy Dr. Miranda Hardee
When Alexander the Great remarked, “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well,” he succinctly captured a widespread belief that teachers are an integral part of our society. As a physician and lifelong learner, I owe a large part of my success to the many teachers who spent countless hours educating, training, and forming me into the person I am today. Now as a urologist, I engage with teachers much differently than I did as a pupil.
In reality, teachers regularly experience several urological health conditions. Undoubtedly, the most common issue I see among teachers is overactive bladder. In today’s fast-paced classroom environment, teachers are so engaged with students that bathroom breaks are often overlooked or unavailable. Often, teachers hold their bladders which (over time) can stretch the bladder causing frequency and urgency issues or even difficulty emptying. It’s not uncommon to hear the remark that, “I used to be able to hold it all day, but now I have to go every 30 minutes!” Since overactive bladder is already common in women, female teachers, without sufficient bathroom breaks, are prone to develop this condition — although it affects male teachers too!
Inadequate bathroom breaks and regularly holding one’s urine can also increase the risk of urinary tract infections which can be persistent and painful. Additionally, a non-medical form of functional incontinence may occur. When a teacher realizes their need to urinate but is prohibited from using the facilities or don’t have access to a nearby toilet, leakage may occur. Physically they are fine, but they are limited functionally.
Interestingly, dehydration can also become a problem if teachers fail to adequately hydrate during the day due to lack of time or for fear of inducing more frequency. Dehydration is the number one cause of kidney stone formation, particularly in a hot climate like Texas. In a 2012 report by Dr. Naim Maalouf on kidney stone formation, he pointed out that, “Some occupations limit the availability of water or of toilet facilities, leading patients to reduce fluid intake which increases nephrolithiasis [stone formation] risk. Examples include teachers and chauffeurs.”
Needless to say, maintaining good bladder health is essential for teachers, as is staying properly hydrated. However, when urinary medical attention becomes necessary, reviewing your specific health conditions and job-related hurdles with a urologist is a good first step. Maintaining a seven-day bladder diary before your first visit will give your urologist a snapshot of how often you’re urinating, how much urine you’re producing, and if any accidents have occurred. Options such as medications or bladder retraining, under the guidance of your urologist, may be recommended. In today’s dynamic classroom environment, a teacher’s focus should remain on their students, not on their aggravated or overworked bladder!
Dr. Miranda Hardee joined The Urology Team in 2013 and specializes in both General and Female Urology.
For more information visit, www.urologyteam.com.