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The health risks of "holding it"

Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster ended when he could no longer ignore nature's call.

By Pamela Sitt Mar 8, 2013 4:23AM

When Marco “Poland Spring” Rubio took the Senate floor and advised the filibustering Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) to “keep some water nearby, it might come in handy,” the question had to be asked:

How long could he hold it?

Senate Television/AP

Paul’s epic filibuster ended to laughter at 12:39 a.m. Thursday when he indicated his need to answer nature's call: "I've discovered that there are some limits to filibustering, and I am going to have to take care of one of those in a few minutes here."

The average person urinates seven times a day. As someone who has the bladder of a heavily pregnant woman (and I’m not pregnant), I can’t imagine holding it for half an hour, much less half of a 24-hour day.

So I had to wonder, what did Paul have to eat or drink during his nearly 13-hour filibuster? He must have been thirsty after all of that talking, right? According to NBCNews.com: 

Over six hours after beginning the filibuster, a visibly tired Paul could be seen eating what appeared to be several pieces of candy in between sentences. At one point, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., set a thermos and an apple on his desk. 

A typical bladder can hold approximately 14 ounces of liquid – about the size of a water glass. Holding urine in can stretch your bladder, leading to some unpleasant health consequences, including:

  • Inability to empty bladder fully
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Bladder infection
  • Kidney infection
  • Urinary tract infection

But can it actually cause your bladder to burst?

It’s unlikely, of course, but there’s at least one historical precedent in the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, whose overly full bladder – and excessively good manners – apparently killed him after he stayed too long at a banquet for fear of being impolite.

So whatever your politics, hats off to Paul for his stamina and eventual common sense that got him off the floor and into the bathroom. It brings a whole new meaning to Thursday night's trending Twitter topic: #StandWithRand.

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Mar 8, 2013 2:48PM
Never mind the point he was trying to relay to the supposedly smart people we elect, let's focus on the water bottle and how long someone's bladder will hold up.
Mar 8, 2013 1:48PM
It went from him not peeing, to her frequent peeing. How long had she been holding this in? Really a piss poor treatment of the subject.
Mar 8, 2013 10:26AM
Used to go from NM to Los Angeles without going, even stopping to get fast food and soda, that was when I was a kid though, about 14 hours or so.
Mar 8, 2013 2:33PM
It must be a light news day if all we can write about is how long the human bladder can go without peeing.
Mar 8, 2013 2:31PM
My mother-in-law (who worked at a hospital) told me about a young woman who was in a car accident.  While this woman did not have life threatening injuries, she died as a result of a ruptured full bladder.  Had her bladder not been full, she would have lived. 
Mar 8, 2013 2:56PM
"eventual common sense"?!?!?!?
Is that what we REALLY NEED in officials?
We need somebody who will get off their a$$ and do what they're PAID TO DO, in stead of intentionally slowing the process down. Phuque Rand Paul.

so auh, being pissed off is really a good thing. is that why most beer comes in 12 oz cans so it gives you 2 oz to get to the bathroom.
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