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We ask the experts to settle common questions we've all wondered about.

Question

Will sitting down on a cold outdoor seat give me bladder trouble?

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Answer

Many myths and misconceptions circulate about the causes of bladder trouble, but the short answer here is no. Sitting on a cold seat will not give you a bladder problem.

Sitting on a cold seat - or being cold in general - could make you feel like you're having a problem. When you're cold, the blood vessels in your skin constrict and you may put out more urine until you warm up.

You may also have a little bit of irritation around the bladder region from sitting on the cold seat. This may trick you into feeling like you have to urinate frequently.

Your body may be irritated from the cold, but you are not damaging your bladder.

To reduce irritation, warm yourself up. If you still feel like you need to urinate often, drink lots of fluids to wash out any irritation that may be causing the sensation. If it doesn't go away within two days, visit your doctor.

If you feel stinging or pain when you urinate, that is a more serious situation. This kind of bladder trouble is not caused by cold weather, but is characteristic of a bladder infection or urinary tract infection. These infections are caused when bacteria enter the urethra and are not washed away.

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Bladder infections are particularly common in women, and most will experience an infection at some point in their lives. They are often caused by sexual activity in younger women and by the thinning of the vaginal lining among post-menopausal women.

The good news is that bladder infections, in most women, are relatively easy to treat. If you feel stinging, burning or pain when you urinate, see your family doctor and he or she will prescribe antibiotics. To prevent recurrence, drink lots of fluids on a regular basis and always urinate after intercourse.

There are many doctors who suggest that yogurt may prevent a bladder infection. The good bacteria in yogurt crowd out the bad bacteria and prevent them from colonizing. Though many doctors recommend drinking cranberry juice, this generally is an ineffective preventative measure. Instead, ask your doctor about cranberry extract, which has more potent levels of acidity that will create an unwelcoming environment for bacteria, and contains no sugar or calories.

Bladder infections are much less common in men, but unfortunately treatment can be painful.

A catheter and antibiotics may be required, and the associated sting of a bladder infection can dramatically affect your life.

If you feel pain, burning, or see blood when you urinate, visit your doctor immediately. Ignoring your symptoms can pose a serious threat to your health.

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Dr. Keith Jarvi is director of the Murray Koffler Urologic Wellness Centre and head of the Division of Urology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

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