Top Tips for a Healthy Bladder
When that pesky bladder keeps interrupting your life….here’s some advice for helping to CONTROL and RE-TRAIN the overactive bladder…..
The symptoms of an overactive bladder include:
FREQUENCY: Having to pass urine more than 7 times in 24 hours, often passing small volumes
URGENCY: Having to rush to pass urine with little or no warning
URGE INCONTINENCE: Not making it to the toilet in time
- Eliminate Caffeine: Caffeine irritates the bladder and can make incontinence worse. Coffee has the biggest effect, so stop drinking it or switch to decaffeinated. Fizzy drinks, tea and chocolate also contain caffeine, so cut down on these too and then replace them with water/squash and herbal or fruit teas. Tea & coffee are also diuretics, & they flush through your system quicker increasing your desire to visit the toilet frequently.
- Avoid alcohol!! Alcohol is also a diuretic, making you want to go to the toilet more frequently.
- Eating the right foods: Spicy foods and citrus fruits can also irritate the bladder, so cut down or avoid these food types.
- Avoid Constipation: Straining to empty your bowels weakens your pelvic floor muscles and makes leakage worse. Never delay the urge to empty your bowels. If you have constipation it may help to change your diet and lifestyle.
- Avoid Heavy Lifting/ strenuous exercise: Lifting and exertion puts lots of strain on your pelvic floor muscles, so avoid it wherever you can if you leak when it happens. When you do need to lift something, like picking up children or shopping bags, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift.
- Losing weight: Being overweight can weaken your pelvic floor muscles and can cause incontinence, because of the pressure of fatty tissue on the bladder. Your symptoms may improve, and could clear up completely, if you lose the excess weight.
- Try not to go to the toilet ‘just in case’: Going to the toilet ‘just in case’ trains the bladder to empty more frequently than necessary, meaning it gets used to only holding small volumes.
- Aim to drink more fluid: Aim for 7-8 drinks of 200-250mls (1.5 – 2 litres in total) spread evenly during the day. This regulates urine production, making it easier to control. Water or dilute squash is best.
- When you get the urge to go to the toilet: HANG-ON as long as possible….TIPS for how: Stand still or sit down; cross your legs, tighten your pelvic floor muscles – hard; press on your pelvic floor; rise up onto your tiptoes; count to 10, think of or do something different; – distract yourself!; wait until the urgency passes – 10-20seconds & then carry on with your activities; don’t try to walk or run to the toilet with urgency – control as above, and then go.
- Delay going to the toilet: If you go to the toilet more often than every 2 hours, train your bladder wait just a few minutes each time. Gradually extend the time between voids up to 3 hours.
- Avoid smoking: If you smoke, you put yourself at risk of incontinence, because coughing puts strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Also it reduces the capabilities of the lining of the urethra to help close the sphincter and keep the tube ’shut’.
- Night visits to the loo: If you get up 2 or more times in the night to empty your bladder, don’t drink after 7pm. Certainly avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Pelvic floor muscle squeezes: If you have a strong desire to pass urine, try strong, repeated pelvic floor squeezes to help take the feeling away. Pelvic floor exercises are really effective at reducing leakage, but it’s important to do them properly. You may have to do pelvic floor exercises for three months before you see any benefits. Activate the pelvic floor quickly and strongly pre- coughing/sneezing/lifting etc.
The aim of bladder re-training is to learn to hold on and ignore the desire to pass urine so that you don’t have to go so often, or in a rush. Bladder re-training is a very effective treatment regime for the overactive bladder, it may take weeks or even months to overcome the urge to pass urine and gain confidence in your bladder function. With bladder re-training you may notice that leakage initially becomes worse when trying to ‘hold-on’…..this will improve with time and practice. You will have good days and bad days to start with, but persevere and don’t give up. It’s always best to try ‘holding-on’ when you are in a safe environment – usually home – so that there’s minimal embarrassing moments out and about.
A specialist physiotherapist can guide you through the process of bladder re-training, monitor your progress, give you advice on exercise, diet and nutrition, help you choose a program that suits your symptoms, and ensure you’re performing your pelvic floor exercises correctly. It’s amazing what changes you can make with minimal intervention, no medication or surgery!!
Emily is available for free 15min consultations, or appointments, so book in now and help yourself change that pesky bladder!!!