Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bladder Control

Many people experience urinary incontinence – they leak urine when they laugh, cough, sneeze, or lift heavy objects.

Incontinence can be caused when muscles used to control the bladder weaken due to childbirth or prostate surgery. Diabetes, neurological complications caused by injury or stroke, or neurologic disease (like multiple sclerosis) can also weaken bladder control.

But the most common cause is what doctors call urge incontinence or bladder instability.  If you have this, see a urologist.

However, here are some helpful tips to manage urinary incontinence:
  • Empty your bladder at least every 2 hours.
  • Avoid highly spiced foods, which irritate the bladder.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol at least 4 hours before bedtime.
  • Practice Kegel exercises to improve bladder control. To feel the muscles to be exercised, practice stopping the flow of urine. Then practice the following three exercises:            
    • Squeeze these muscles for 3 seconds, then relax the muscles for 3 seconds. Do this 10 times, three times a day.
    • Squeeze and relax the muscles as quickly as possible. Repeat this ten times, three times a day.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.