Pharmacists Benefit From Adequate Hydration and Restroom Breaks

Some pharmacists are not taking the time to stay hydrated and use the restroom, which can lead to serious health consequences.

In college, a friend nicknamed me 'Potsy,' because I had to urinate every 2 hours. That name stuck with me for too many years.

After I started working in a chain pharmacy, it seemed I could go longer and longer without visiting the bathroom. By the time I had been working for 7 years, I could go that many hours without using the restroom, and I finally lost my nickname.

Does this sound familiar? You think, 'I’ll just do this first, I’ll do that quickly, oh there’s a waiter in pain, sick child needs antibiotic mixed.' Before you know it, hours have gone by and you have not had anything to drink and you have not made it to the bathroom.

If you are like many other pharmacists, you are not using the restroom enough while at work.

For years, I realized this was a common problem—the topic comes up again and again in all of my social media pharmacist groups. I recently started a discussion and received a lot of feedback on the topic.

Most pharmacists reported not visiting the restroom enough while at work—some even hold their urine for an entire 13 or 14 hour shift. Yet, pharmacists tell me they are suffering from frequent urinary tract infections, recurrent kidney stones, various bladder issues, interstitial cystitis, occasional accidents (especially when pregnant), and other complications.

A healthy adult bladder can hold up to about 16 ounces, or 2 cups, of liquid at a time.1 Holding more than this amount may make you feel uncomfortable. Holding urine can increase the risk of infection or kidney disease if you have an enlarged prostate, neurogenic bladder, kidney disorders, urinary retention, or are pregnant.

Without the above risk factors, holding your urine should not cause urinary tract infections (UTI)—UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and sit and multiply when the bladder is not emptied. Symptoms of a UTI include: constant need to urinate, burning sensation, strong-smelling urine, blood in the urine/cloudy looking urine, and/or pelvic pain. A backup of urine into the kidneys can lead to infection or kidney damage.

Many pharmacists report that they drink less because there’s no time, or in the hopes they will have to use the restroom less. If you think that not drinking is the answer, think again.

Many of these pharmacists noted that dehydration, whether intentional or unintentional, has led to issues such as frequent headaches, high resting heart rate, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections. When you are dehydrated, you are losing more fluid than you are taking in, and your body cannot carry out its normal functions.

Prolonged or repeated dehydration can lead to these health issues, as well as seizures or hypovolemic shock. Therefore, pharmacists must make an effort to drink enough fluids, eat foods that are high in water such as fruit and vegetables, and use the restroom as often as needed.

Some tips for general bladder health, many of which we know, but need a reminder:

  • Drink 6-8, 8-oz cups of fluids per day, at least half of which are water.3 (Those with kidney disease may need less)
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate)
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid constipation: drink plenty of fluids, eat a lot of high-fiber fruits and vegetables, and stay physically active
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly
  • Do pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels
  • While urinating, maintain a relaxed position and take the time to empty the bladder fully
  • Always wipe from front to back to remove bacteria
  • Urinate after intercourse to flush away bacteria
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes- this will allow the air to keep the area dry and avoid moisture and bacteria growth

Kat Tate, PharmD, has a simple solution: “I go to the bathroom. I will walk past the drive-thru, a line of people out front, smile, and say, ‘how are you?’ as I pass. No one is going to tell me when I can use a restroom. A 3 minute break is not going to end the world.”

References

  • 1. Brusie C. Is It Safe to Hold Your Pee? Healthline website. https://www.healthline.com/health/holding-pee#is-it-safe. Reviewed February 3, 2017. Accessed February 8, 2019
  • Mayo Clinic . Diseases and Conditions: Dehydration. Mayo Clinic website. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086. Published February 15, 2018. Accessed February 8, 2019
  • National Institute on Aging. 13 Tips to Keep Your Bladder Healthy. NIH website. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/13-tips-keep-your-bladder-healthy. Reviewed May 1, 2017. Accessed February 8, 2019