Small Changes for Big Results
The realities of urinary incontinence can be all too familiar with women. More than 34 million American women are affected by urinary leakage.
Knowing you're not alone in dealing with bladder control problems can be a relief. So can making a few behavioral modifications.
These six small changes can help bring about big results in controlling your incontinence.
1. Flex some muscle. Try following a structured program of pelvic incontinence exercises, or Kegel exercises, and bladder retraining. According to the World Health Organization, pelvic floor muscle therapy has a 65 to 70 percent cure or improvement rate for urinary incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and help control urination. Kegel exercises and other forms of pelvic muscle therapy, such as electrical stimulation and biofeedback, are designed to improve bladder control in women by strengthening the muscles that control urination. Kegel exercises are most successful when done regularly.
Tip: To help minimize bladder leakage, try performing a Kegel when sneezing, coughing, bending over, or at the first urge to urinate.
2. Curtail culprit foods. Many "trigger" foods and beverages can irritate the bladder. The list includes alcohol, caffeine, acidic fruits or fruit juices, tomato or tomato-based products, milk products, artificial sweeteners and spicy foods. Pinpoint the foods and beverages that make you go more, then reduce or eliminate them from your diet.
Tip: Some foods may only have a mild effect on your condition. But when bathroom locations are in question, it may be best to avoid those foods altogether.
3. Drink more, not less. It may sound contrary, but drinking more fluids spread throughout the day is actually good for bladder control.
Many people believe that limiting fluids is the best way to control incontinence. Truth is, restricting fluids may not only be dangerous, but it could aggravate the problem. Decreased fluids can lead to constipation, which can cause dehydration making the urine more concentrated and irritating the bladder.
Keep in mind that drinking large volumes at one time can fill the bladder too quickly and lead to urgency. Instead, strive for at least 50 ounces (six to seven 8-ounce glasses) of fluids spread throughout the day.
Tip: Drink throughout the day, but reduce fluid intake after dinner to help prevent nighttime accidents.
4. Lose a few pounds. Overweight? Strive to shed a few pounds. Excessive weight can contribute to incontinence by adding pressure to the abdominal area. Even a moderate weight loss may decrease urine leakage.
Each pound a person loses can result in positive changes for managing incontinence, as well as help ward off other obesity related diseases.
Tip: Check with your physician to determine what your optimal weight should be for your height before beginning a weight-loss program.
5. Wear the right absorbent product. Explore your product options to find a female-friendly fit and function that works best for your needs. There are a wide variety of products available for both light and heavy use, as well as those specifically made for men or women. Wearing the right product can make all the difference in managing your incontinence and in how confident you feel.
Tip: To help select a product that's right for you, start here.
6. Visit the bathroom on a schedule. Women can become so busy juggling daily commitments they often put off bathroom visits until it's absolutely critical. Doing so only adds to bladder stress and increases the chances for leakage.
Plan to urinate on a regular schedule whether you feel the need to go or not. Start by scheduling bathroom visits at one-hour intervals and gradually increase those visits by 30 minutes. Work your way up to taking bathroom visits every 2-4 hours during the day.
Tip: If you feel the urge to urinate before it's time for your scheduled bathroom visit, practice relaxation techniques. Try taking slow, deep breaths until the urge passes.
Little things can mean a lot.
By making just a few small changes, you can experience a big difference in your bladder control success.