Overcoming Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is a common condition, particularly among the elderly or in women after childbirth. Due to weakened pelvic floor muscles, tissues, and other factors, the affected person may suffer from embarrassing episodes of wetting associated with a strong urge to urinate or leakages that occur with coughing, sneezing or exercising. The good news is, incontinence is not inevitable and it is not irreversible.
Behavioral modifications for urinary incontinence can help a person reduce incontinence and even regain bladder control. There are specific strategies, other than surgery and medication, including behavior modification, exercise, and bladder retraining, which can help to improve symptoms or eliminate the problem.
Behavior modification, most often the first step in a treatment plan, includes lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications. Some people can attribute their incontinence to dietary habits. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages stimulate the bladder and have a diuretic effect, causing sudden and sometimes uncontrollable urges to urinate. By simply modifying your daily habits and cutting back on potentially problematic foods and beverages, some patients regain control of their bladder.
Because obesity increases incontinence risks, losing even a moderate amount of weight is proven to help people regain bladder control and may even prevent bladder problems altogether. A doctor can recommend dietary changes and exercise routines for those who desire to lose weight.
Your urogynecologist may suggest additional lifestyle changes that may include smoking cessation, avoiding spices, not drinking too close to bedtime, having regular bowel movements and urinating around the clock. Hormone replacement therapy, medication, biofeedback, urge suppression techniques, and bladder retraining using Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles are proven to be successful as well.
Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor muscles -- those responsible for holding urine in the bladder. A person can squeeze the muscles by imagining she is stopping urination. People who are uncertain as to how or how often to do the exercises should consult their doctor for advice.
Bladder training can be used as a sole treatment approach or in conjunction with other behavioral modifications for urinary incontinence. The method requires the incontinent person to either delay urination for increasing amounts of time or emptying the bladder several times within a few minutes. Each strategy works to help retrain the bladder.