Coping during and after treatment

There are things that you can do to help with any bladder problems you might have during and after treatment.  

Bladder health

During your treatment, you may have symptoms such as wanting to pass urine more often or urgently, or a burning sensation when you go to the toilet. For most people, these symptoms last a few days after treatment. Your urologist or specialist nurse can suggest ways to help and prescribe medication if needed. If the symptoms continue after your treatment finishes, they may suggest a referral to a continence adviser. They can help with bladder problems and give practical advice. 

What you can do to help

Drink plenty of fluids

Try to drink at least two litres (three and a half pints) of fluids per day. This is about eight glasses. If it’s hot or you are exercising, you will need to drink more. It may help to drink less in the evening, if you find you have to get up in the night to pass urine. If you don’t drink enough, it can make the symptoms worse.

Some fluids can irritate the bladder and make symptoms worse. Try to reduce or avoid:

  • drinks that contain caffeine (such as tea, coffee, green tea, cola and cocoa)
  • fizzy drinks
  • drinks with artificial sweeteners (diet or light drinks)
  • alcohol.

Give up smoking

If you’re a smoker, giving up is one of the healthiest decisions you can make. The chemicals in cigarette smoke irritate and damage the lining of the bladder and can make your symptoms worse. There is lots of support available to help you stop.

Some studies suggest that stopping smoking may decrease the risk of non-invasive bladder cancer coming back in the bladder.

Smoking is a major risk factor for bladder cancer and other cancers such as lung cancer. It also increases the risk of heart disease.

We have more information about giving up smoking that you may find helpful.

Toilet card

If you need to go to the toilet more often, or feel that you can’t wait when you do want to go, you can get a card to show to staff in shops, pubs and other places. The card allows you to use their toilets without them asking awkward and embarrassing questions. You can get the card from the Bladder and Bowel Foundation.

Macmillan produces also produces a toilet card, which you can order from be.mac. We hope this card helps you get urgent access to a toilet, but we cannot guarantee that it will work everywhere.

The National Key Scheme (NKS) offers access to about 9,000 locked public toilets across the UK. You can buy a key from Disability Rights UK. They can also send you details of where the toilets are located.