7 Tips for Better Bladder Control

Individuals who struggle with bladder control, difficulty in getting the release of urine from the bladder to stop, suffer from the health condition of urinary incontinence.  While many American adults experience this condition, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact size of the population, simply because many people do not let anyone know their symptoms.

Beyond being a health issue, incontinence impacts a person mentally, emotionally, and interpersonally. Often someone who does not have strong bladder control will feel anxiety about going to events or even completing normal errands because they are deeply concerned about always being near a restroom. In this way, it can be difficult for someone who is incontinent to have a high quality of life.

It is common to think that loss of bladder control is a natural part of aging. That is not true, though. It is a treatable health condition that should not be a source of stress or shame.

Between 25% and 33% of American adults have trouble with incontinence, according to statistics from the Urology Care Foundation. Approximately 33 million US women and men are suffering with overactive bladder (OAB), which signals an abnormally intense and frequent urge to urinate; bladder control issues may or may not accompany OAB.

Do you find that it is an increasing challenge to get to a restroom on time? If so, you are clearly not alone. As Kristeen Cherney notes in Healthline, your physician “can help you understand what’s causing it and recommend a treatment plan.”

You can take other forward steps as well, though, outside the doctor’s office, to improve bladder control and beat urinary incontinence. Here are a few tips so that this health issue does not derail you, so you can again participate in all the activities that give your life enjoyment and meaning.


Tip #1 – Stop drinking beverages that increase urination frequency.

There are two diuretics that are consumed heavily in the United States, caffeine and alcohol. Because diuretics increase the volume of urine that your body creates, you should be able to help contain the issue by limiting the amount of alcohol and coffee that you drink.


Tip #2 – Try weight loss.

If you are overweight, you may lose strength in your pelvic floor (PF) muscles, which can in turn lead to incontinence. Simply dropping a few pounds can help reduce some of the fatty tissue that is squeezing the bladder – helping to mitigate that sense of urgency. Incontinence sometimes disappears completely following weight loss.


Tip #3 – Do your best to skip heavy lifting.

When you lift something, that action necessarily puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles; so try to limit how often you do it. If you do have to lift something, such as a grocery bag or grandchild, the UK's National Health Service recommends tightening the PF muscles both prior to the lift and while you do it.


Tip #4 – Give up cigarettes.

Smoking can lead to problems with bladder control simply because it results in more coughing – which in turn leads to PF muscle strain. If you have difficulty quitting smoking, advises the NHS, you can speak with your doctor. (Want another reason to give up smoking? Nonprofit World Education notes that cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals, 51 of which are scientifically considered to be carcinogens.)


Tip #5 – Stay away from sugar substitutes.

Compounds such as acesulfame K, aspartame, and sodium saccharine cause bladder irritation. Plus, these chemicals can be diuretic, exacerbating incontinence. It is best to stay away from these artificial sweeteners. Stevia is an all-natural sugar substitute that studies have shown is not irritating to the bladder, according to the National Association for Continence.


Tip #6 – Identify your PF muscles.

This basic step of understanding where these muscles are located will help to reduce symptoms of OAB – which is often a reason for incontinence, particularly with women. A routine of Kegel exercises (or PF muscle exercises) is effective in the treatment of OAB. Kegel exercises are simple and straightforward once you know where the pelvic floor is located. It is easy to locate these muscles when you are urinating. You will naturally activate them if you attempt to stop your release before you have emptied your bladder.  


Tip #7 – Do Kegel exercises daily.

Having located the PF muscles, you can make them stronger over time with Kegel exercises. Just contract the PF muscles for 5-10 seconds at a time. Do as many as 30 contractions per session twice daily, according to the Urology Care Foundation.  


Conclusion

Are you suffering from bladder control issues? To again echo Cherney’s comments, you may benefit from going beyond DIY techniques and speaking with a specialist. Urogynecologic disorders find thorough and customized care with the physicians and nurse practitioners at Southeast Urogyn. See what our patients say.

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