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Overcoming Bladder Disorders.

Bladder Problems: No Longer A "Hush-Hush" Disease

Overcoming Bladder Disorders is a pioneer effort because it succeeds in providing a comprehensive guide to understanding a group of ailments that usually have incontinence, loss of bladder control, as their common problem.

The authors, Rebecca Chalker and Kristene E. Whitmore, M.D., have produced a volume characterized by expert medical advice and writing so clear and compelling that almost everyone, regardless of lack of medical background, can profit from their work.

Because of the stigma associated with bladder function, people who have such problems often suffer intensely from guilt and shame, the authors note. Many sufferers do not tell their physicians or their family. Consequently, hidden related conditions go undetected and undiagnosed.

"Perhaps because these problems are rarely life-threatening, their symptoms are not taken seriously by some doctors," Chalker and Whitmore complain. (Because) they have more important things to do than deal with a little leakage. To make matters worse, many doctors do not understand how to diagnose correctly bladder disorders and misdiagnosis is common."

Another physician, John W. Rowe, president of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, seems to agree with the statement. He accuses many leading hospitals in the country of ignoring urinary incontinence. "Too often doctors accept their elderly patients' incontinence as an unavoidable result of aging," he recently commented.

The book is especially helpful when it describes the methods by which the bladder functions in concert with the kidneys. Because both organs are composed of cells, muscles, and mucous lining, the principles of proper nutrition are essential. Just as a disregard of the kidney's vulnerability can lead to specific disorders, not understanding the bladder's needs can be equally harmful. Alcohol, excess caffeine, drugs, chemicals from food, impure water - all act upon the bladder.

Especially commendable are the explicit illustrations that describe the complex parts of male and female genital anatomy. A recent survey revealed that among female high school students, less than 25% knew where or what a urethra is (the thin tube connecting the bladder to the outside of the body).

Although the male prostate is not a part of the urinary system (it belongs to the male genital reproductive system), because of its location, the authors explain, it strongly influences the normal function of the bladder and urethra. The malfunctioning prostate can be agonizing source of bladder dysfunction.

Stress incontinence, a commonly misunderstood problem, is deftly explained in Overcoming Bladder Disorders. Rather than accept an absolute psychological explanation, the authors point out that solving the psychological-stress factors will not necessarily cure the dysfunction. Physical complications can persist and must be treated by muscle training, exercise, diet or surgery. The latter is a choice only to be used in cases that fail to respond to other therapies, they advise.

Because the use of drugs has not been studied well enough for safety and efficiency, specialists like Dr. Whitmore are reluctant to advocate medication because serious side effects usually result.

Dr. Whitmore, however, is an advocate of vitamin C therapy that is aimed at inhibiting the growth of bacteria by its ability to maintain natural acidity. Cystitis, a common problem in bladder dysfunction, has been known to yield to vitamin C more effectively overall than to drugs that can cause side effects. She is also in favor of adding nutrients that contain the benevolent bacteria Lactobacillus. The effect of this substance is similar to that of vitamin C, the maintenance of acidic levels rather than alkaline in the bladder.

The authors have succeeded in maintaining readers' interest by ranging compellingly from subject to subject and returning to the principal player, the bladder. It makes for an eagerness to glean more knowledge and lifts the book above the usually dreary recitations of fact and figures.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Vegetus Publications
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1990
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