Almost 12 million people in the United States experience urine control issues. Many things contribute to the condition:
- Enlargement of the prostate (men)
- Narrowing of the urethra due to scar tissue
- Older age
- Bladder stones
- Frequent bladder infections
This is the most common type of incontinence. It means urine is lost with activity like coughing, exercising or laughing. Any activity increasing pressure on the bladder will cause a urine leak. Many people go years without telling their physician or loved ones about this form of incontinence, because they don’t realize that it’s a treatable condition.
Remember those commercials, “Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now?” That’s what urge incontinence feels like. The bladder muscle contracts spontaneously, causing a sudden strong urge to urinate which results in a sudden, uncontrollable rush of urine. With an overactive bladder, you may even feel the urge to urinate if you hear water running or you put your hands in water.
Overflow incontinence is usually experienced as a frequent or constant dribble, in which the bladder is unable to empty itself and the urine just “overflows.” A Neurogenic Bladder is a condition where the nerve supply to the bladder is disrupted, causing multiple bladder problems, depending on injury or disease.
November is Bladder Awareness Month, now is the time to take charge of these bothersome issues. To receive the best possible treatment, it’s important to talk openly and honestly with a physician or urologist. A Fort HealthCare urologist is a specialist in the treatment of genital and urinary conditions and can suggest many non-surgical and surgical options to treat incontinence.
In the meantime, some therapies that you can put into practice on your own include:
- Drinking water. It seems counter-intuitive, but some beverages can act as a diuretic, making the urge to go even stronger. Two-thirds of what you drink during the day should be water.
- Avoid bladder irritants if struggling with excessive urges, such as: caffeine, aspartame, carbonated beverages, alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods, sharp cheese, tea, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, vinegar, plums, strawberries, lemon juice, onions, tobacco and pineapple.
- Go to the bathroom no more than every 2-4 hours. Your bladder should empty for at least 8 seconds or it was “too soon” to go.
- If you have the urge to go but it is too soon, stop moving, sit or stand still, contract you pelvic floor four to six times, breathe deeply and relax until the urge passes. Suppress the urge if it is less than two hours since you last went to the bathroom.