Take control of your bladder

Do you find yourself struggling to make it to the bathroom in time? Urinary incontinence is a common condition. Your doctor can help you understand what’s causing it and recommend a treatment plan.

Lifestyle changes can also help get your bladder under control. Learn about six steps you can take to reduce your risk of accidents and help you get back to enjoying everyday activities, leak-free.

Caffeine and alcohol have a diuretic effect on your body. That means they increase the amount of urine you produce. If you’re having trouble controlling your bladder, consuming caffeinated beverages may be contributing to the problem.

To help manage your symptoms, consider limiting caffeine and alcohol, or avoiding them altogether. Coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and certain medications are common sources of caffeine.

Some artificial sweeteners, including sodium saccharine, acesulfame K, and aspartame, may irritate your bladder. Artificial sweeteners may also worsen incontinence by acting as a diuretic, just like caffeine. To help relieve these urges, avoid foods and beverages that contain these sugar substitutes.

As an alternative, considering reaching for stevia-sweetened products instead. According to the National Association for Continence, stevia doesn’t appear to cause bladder irritation.

Other foods may also irritate your bladder and stimulate urine production. These can include:

  • tomatoes
  • apples
  • citrus fruits
  • spicy foods
  • foods that contain corn syrup

Try to limit these foods. It may help decrease the number of bathroom visits you need to make and lower your risk of accidents.

Overactive bladder is one common cause of bladder control problems, especially among women. Doing regular Kegel exercises can help treat this condition. These exercises also called pelvic floor muscle exercises.

Kegel exercises are relatively easy to do. But before you can start, you need to find your pelvic floor muscles. The next time you urinate, try to stop your flow of urine midstream. The muscles you use to do that are your pelvic floor muscles.

Once you find your pelvic floor muscles, you can complete regular Kegel exercises to strengthen them. Simply contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold them for five to ten seconds, and relax them. The Urology Care Foundation suggests that you complete at least two sessions of Kegel exercises per day. Up to 30 contractions per session.

In some cases, your doctor may recommend bladder retraining. This can help reduce the number of times you need to go to the bathroom. It’s often paired with Kegel exercises or other treatments. Retraining can help strengthen your bladder, so you don’t have to use the restroom as soon as it starts to fill up.

To retrain your bladder, your doctor will advise you to follow a regular bathroom schedule. Try holding off for 10 minutes after the initial urge to go. Your doctor may encourage you to gradually increase the length of time between each bathroom visit. Try to avoid emptying your bladder between visits.

Sometimes, you can treat mild cases of incontinence with lifestyle changes alone. In other cases, you may need medication, surgery, or other treatments. For example, prescription medications can help reduce muscle spasms and nerve problems that may be affecting your bladder.

If you’re having troubling controlling your bladder, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and discuss treatment options. Following your doctor’s recommended treatment plan can help you regain control.