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What is a Small Bladder?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated Feb 24, 2024
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A small bladder is the name sometimes given to a feeling of extreme urgency to urinate, or an inability to control the bladder. These sensations may be the result of involuntary muscle contractions arising from a problem or disease affecting the organ. This problem may be corrected by visiting a qualified physician and beginning a regimen of medication, exercises, and a corrective diet.

In terms of size, no one bladder is physically smaller than another. The muscles of this organ are capable of expanding and contracting to hold various amounts of liquid, and most people can hold relatively the same amount of urine before they need to go to the bathroom. When the organ is filled to capacity, an individual typically has a sense of urgency to relieve himself. If he ignores this sensation, the muscles expand and the urgency temporarily goes away.

A person may believe he has a small bladder if he constantly feels he needs to use the restroom, or finds that he cannot hold it in at times. This situation is often referred to by doctors as having an overactive bladder and incontinence. The bladder's ability to hold liquid may be diminished by a variety of factors which are often treatable with medication, exercises which target the lower urinary tract, and sometimes surgery.

One cause of an overactive or feeling of a small bladder is muscle spasms. This organ functions through the movements of the sphincter muscle and the detrusor muscle, both of which receive signals from the cerebral cortex. The sphincter holds liquid in when it contracts and releases liquid by relaxing. The detrusor lines the inner wall of the bladder, relaxing to allow it to fill with urine, and contracting to force it out of the body. These muscles may spasm at inappropriate times, causing leakage, or the brain may fail to receive the appropriate signals letting it know the body needs to relieve itself due to a neurological problem.

Bladder cancer, inflammation, stones, and infection are among the more common causes of involuntary urinary tract muscle spasms. Bladder cancer is the growth of a tumor inside the organ, which greatly reduces its capacity to hold urine, leading to a feeling of small bladder. Bladder stones occur from the crystallization of certain minerals in the urine and can both take up room in the bladder and block the passage of urine out of the body. Inflammation and infection cause the tissue of the organ to become irritated, increasing the sense of needing to relieve the bladder, and may also be accompanied by pain during urination.

A small bladder problem may be corrected with medication, exercises, and a modified diet. The misfiring of nerve signals in the brain which tell the bladder muscles to contract at the wrong times can be targeted by anticholinergic drugs. Kegel exercises are often helpful to women experiencing incontinence because they teach the brain to improve its control over the sphincter, and increase its overall muscle tone and ability to hold in liquid. Men who have passed multiple bladder stones may be asked to increase their water intake to dilute their urine and decrease any sources of calcium in their diets, which is a common source of calcification. In some special circumstances, surgery may be required as a last resort to repair any damage that cannot be improved with other forms of treatment.

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