The urinary bladder, or simply, the bladder, is a pear-shaped muscular sac where urine is collected and stored. It is located just above and behind the pubic bone. The size and shape of the bladder depends on how much urine it contains. It can also be affected by the pressure it sustains from surrounding organs.
When urine is stored in the urinary bladder, it allows urination to be controlled and timed. During urination, the urine exits the bladder and flows into the urethra, which allows urine to flow out of the body. The normal capacity of the bladder is 400-600 ml of urine.
Overly Distended Bladder
Normally, the bladder expands as it is filled with urine, much like a water balloon. After a person relieves themselves, the bladder returns to its unfilled size. However, it can become overly filled, leading to a distended bladder.
A distended bladder generally occurs when there is a loss of tone in the bladder muscles resulting in failure to detect the elevated pressure exerted by the urine. In some cases, there is an obstruction that does not allow urine to flow into the urethra. This may cause pain, a feeling of fullness, and the urge to urinate frequently.
The urinary bladder helps control urination so we don’t need to relieve ourselves constantly. As the bladder is filled with urine produced by the kidneys, pressure builds up within the bladder and expands. The expansion or distention of the bladder sends signals to the brain once it’s full. This triggers the urge to void the bladder or take a trip to the restroom.
But what if the bladder is unable to empty completely?
Under normal conditions, urine is considered sterile or free from pathogens. However, if urine sits in the bladder for too long or there is leftover urine after voiding, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Urinary retention or leftover urine may lead to an infection in the bladder, ureters, and even kidneys.
There are wherein the bladder is not able to contract and empty completely. The urinary bladder may become too full or overly distended. The urine may back up into the kidney and the pressure may cause damage to the blood vessels of the kidney. A buildup of urine and pressure worsens a distended bladder.