Reduction in bladder capacity
Many people are well aware of the symptoms of a shrink bladder - namely the increased urge to urinate with a reduced urine output - but they know little about its causes and possible treatment approaches. The supposedly harmless symptoms are often ignored or underestimated. As the worst-case scenario can be cancer, a medical check-up is strongly recommended.
A shrinking bladder is a permanent reduction in the capacity of the bladder, which is usually associated with corresponding urinary disorders. The volume of the bladder is partially reduced to less than 15 percent of its original size
Symptoms of a shrink bladder
A shrinking bladder is particularly noticeable through increased urge to urinate, followed by the delivery of small amounts of urine (pollakiuria). Urine delivery is often painful, but can also proceed without further complaints.
Causes of a shrink bladder
In most cases, the decrease in bladder capacity is due to an incorrectly healed or chronic bladder infection (cystitis), which is accompanied by fibrosis of the bladder muscles. If there are signs of a bladder infection such as bladder cramps, painful urination and pollakiuria or blood in the urine, urgent medical attention should be sought to prevent the development of a shrinking bladder and other complications, such as kidney inflammation. The bladder infection is usually caused by bacteria, against which antibiotics help. But there are also other forms such as interstitial cystitis, the exact cause of which remains unclear to date and for which no cure has been possible so far.
In addition to the urinary bladder inflammation, a few other factors can be considered as triggers of the shrink bladder, which range from the consequences of urinary drainage via a bladder catheter and scarring of the bladder tissue after an operation via a so-called neurogenic bladder to bladder cancer. The neurogenic bladder is caused by nerve disorders which, in the case of a shrinking bladder, cause the urinary bladder muscles to contract continuously or too frequently. Not only bladder cancer, but also cancers of nearby organs, such as prostate cancer or cervical cancer, can lead to a decrease in the capacity of the urinary bladder or to a shrinking bladder.
Diagnosis and treatment
The first step in the examination is to find out what the cause of the complaints is before you can start targeted therapy. As a rule, those affected are asked to submit a urine sample, which is then examined in the laboratory. In this way, blood residues in the urine but also bacterial cystitis can be easily detected. In addition, an ultrasound examination is often carried out to get to the bottom of the complaints. Imaging methods such as computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging can also provide important information for the diagnosis. However, for example, they do not offer sufficient safety in the case of bladder cancer, so that if there is a suspicion of this, bladder mirroring is often performed. Existing signs of a neurogenic bladder emptying disorder require additional imaging of the nervous system and brain. In addition, functional examinations of the bladder, such as a urine jet measurement, may be appropriate.
According to the different causes of the shrink bladder, there are numerous different treatment options available, which, however, can not always cure, but sometimes only alleviate the symptoms. There is a good chance of success, for example, in the treatment of bacterial cystitis. These can usually be eliminated with antibiotics within a relatively short time. If the pathogens have developed resistance to common antibiotics, broad-spectrum antibiotics are used.
In the case of a neurogenic bladder, however, there is usually only the possibility of alleviating the symptoms or normalizing urine output at the drug level. If there are complications such as a reflux of urine into the renal pelvis (vesicorenal reflux or vesico-uretero-renal reflux) and the patient's condition worsens, surgery remains the last option. As part of the surgical procedure, the bladder can be enlarged (bladder augmentation) or a new artificial bladder (bladder plastic) can be created.
In bladder cancer, chemotherapy and surgical elimination are still the treatment methods of choice. In the event of early detection of the cancer, the chances of the patient being cured are quite high. However, if bladder cancer is already well advanced at the time of diagnosis and metastases are already showing - such as bone metastases associated with corresponding bone pain - the affected person can no longer be cured. It is simply a matter of minimizing the patient's complaints and slowing the progression of the disease as far as possible.
The drastic reduction in bladder volume in the context of a shrink bladder from 300 to 400 milliliters to sometimes less than 50 milliliters can generally be countered with the help of so-called bladder training. This is usually done in addition or after the treatment of the underlying disease, with the aim of gradually increasing bladder capacity and normalizing urine output. Those affected train the urine to consciously hold back and in this way increase the excretion intervals. Medications that regulate bladder muscle contraction can be used as a support.
Naturopathic treatment for shrink bladder
Naturopathy, like conventional medicine, cannot counteract individual causes of the shrinking bladder, such as neurogenic bladder dysfunction or cancer, but it does offer promising additional treatment options, particularly for chronic bladder infections. Various teas or tea blends based on plants (e.g. nettle, mistletoe therapy, chamomile flowers, Gundelrebenkraut) are said to have a soothing - but no healing - effect. Pumpkin seeds are also considered beneficial. Herbal medicine also uses tinctures and extracts from ribwort, dandelion, horsetail and juniper for bladder infections. In addition, cranberry juice is said to have a preventive effect because it is said to make bacterial infections of the bladder more difficult.
Other naturopathic treatment approaches against chronic cystitis are acupuncture and acupuncture massages according to Penzel. In addition, various homeopathic medicines such as Nux vomica or Cantharis are used to treat inflammation of the bladder. From the field of Schüssler salt therapy, Schüssler salts No. 9 (sodium phosphoricum) and No. 11 (Silicea) have proven their worth in cases of cystitis. Since the inflammatory processes of the urinary bladder are also brought about together with a general acidification of the organism, a balance in the acid-base balance is often part of the naturopathic treatment of a shrink bladder. Which naturopathic measures are best suited for treatment depends heavily on the individual symptoms and the constitution of those affected. The selection should therefore always be left to experienced therapists. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- Thomas Gasser: Basic knowledge of urology, Springer Verlag, 6th edition, 2015
- W. H. Jost et al .: Diagnostics and therapy of neurogenic bladder disorders, S1 guideline, German Society for Neurology, (accessed October 8, 2019), AWMF
- Richard Hautmann, Jürgen Gschwend: Urology, Springer Verlag, 5th edition, 2014