Tips to Get Your Bladder Under Control
Take Control, on Your Own
Even after seeing your doctor, you may still have bladder control problems. While you should always address any concerns about medical treatment with your physician or urologist, you can take back some control over your bladder.
Medicines are not the only solution for overactive bladder (incontinence). Lifestyle changes can help you get your bladder under control so you can get back to enjoying everyday activities: leak-free.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are both causes of incontinence, so it’s no surprise that they can worsen overactive bladder. According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), limiting caffeine intake to less than 100 mg per day can help your symptoms. This is equal to about one cup of coffee. Don’t forget that tea, chocolate, soda, and certain medications also have caffeine.
Consider avoiding alcohol altogether if you have overactive bladder. Alcoholic beverages have the same diuretic effects as caffeine. This increases urinary urges.
Certain Foods Can Make You Go, Too
Drinks aren’t the only things that increase urination. Surprisingly, certain foods can make you go, too. These include bladder irritants like:
- citrus fruits
- tomatoes (and tomato-based sauces)
- spicy foods
- foods containing corn syrup
There is no specific diet that can treat overactive bladder, but you can decrease bathroom visits by limiting these foods. Avoiding them is even more important when eating away from home, so your bladder doesn’t interfere with your schedule.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Incontinence may be worsened by eating artificial sweeteners (sugar substitutes). Artificial sweeteners are used by the weight-conscious, but some sugar substitutes are also available in packaged foods and drinks. The NAFC reports that the worst sweeteners for overactive bladder are acesulfame K (Sweet One) and sodium saccharin. Aspartame may also affect bladder function. If you want to enjoy a sweet drink without the added calories or caffeine, try plain old healthy water with a squeeze of lemon.
Kegel Exercises for Women
While there is no one direct cause of overactive bladder, the condition is most common in women with weak bladder muscles. Kegel, or pelvic floor muscle exercises, can help strengthen your bladder to reduce leaks.
Kegels are relatively easy to do, and they can be done anytime and anywhere. The exercises take some practice to make sure you’re doing them correctly. You should feel your pelvic muscles contract without holding your breath or squeezing your glutes. The Urology Care Foundation recommends performing up to 45 contractions twice a day, with each squeeze lasting for five seconds at a time.
Kegel Exercises for Men
Kegel exercises are hailed by many women, but they aren’t female-exclusive. The same exercises can be completed by men with overactive bladder, too. According to the Urology Care Foundation, this is done by moving your penis up and down without using any other muscles in the body.
Getting the Kegel technique down takes time for both men and women. But once you get stronger, you should notice bladder improvements.
Retraining Your Bladder
If it seems like you’re in the bathroom more than in any other room in the house, then you’re definitely going too often. Bladder retraining can complement lifestyle changes to decrease the frequency of bathroom visits. It also goes hand-in-hand with Kegel exercises. Retraining strengthens the bladder so you don’t have to void the moment it starts to fill up.
With overactive bladder, the normal response is to go as soon as you feel an urge. By increasing the time between bathroom stops, you will ultimately strengthen the bladder. Just take care not to hold in urine for several hours, as this can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Medicines Can Help
Mild cases of incontinence might be resolved with lifestyle changes alone. If the changes aren’t enough, then overactive bladder treatments are critical to improving your quality of life.
Prescription medications for overactive bladder work by reducing muscle spasms and nerve problems that contribute to urinary problems. Talk to your doctor about all of the medical options available, including patches, tablets, and liquids.
- Diet and Daily Habits: Can This Affect Your Bladder or Bowel Control? (2013, October 7). National Association for Continence. Retrieved December 11, 2013 from http://www.nafc.org/bladder-bowel-health/frequently-asked-questions/diet-and-daily-habits/
- Kegel (Pelvic Floor Muscle) Exercises (2013, April). Urology Care Foundation. Retrieved December 11, 2013 from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=119&display=1
- Overactive Bladder (n.d.). Medline Plus. Retrieved December 11, 2013 from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/overactivebladder.html