Before you hit the doc’s office to ask about bladder leakage, see if a few simple lifestyle changes could help stop the flow. Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to incontinence, so give them a shot – you just might be in for a pleasant surprise!
Some of the lifestyle changes that can help you manage light bladder leakage are pretty self-explanatory, while others may seem a little counterintuitive. For instance, if you’ve stopped exercising or drinking as many fluids to try to prevent accidents, you may actually be making the problem worse. Think about your current lifestyle and see if there’s room for improvement in the following areas:
Change up your diet
Doctors aren’t entirely sure why, but certain foods seem to irritate the bladder, which can lead to light incontinence. If you regularly consume citrus fruits or fruit juices, tomato products, carbonated beverages, spicy foods, foods with artificial sweeteners, sugar or chocolate, try cutting back on them for a week or so to see if you notice a difference. Experts at the Mayo Clinic note that you may not have to ditch your favorite foods completely, so just monitor them more closely, adjusting them so that they don’t cause irritation and the urge to urinate.
It’s also important to realize that constipation can cause light bladder leakage to increase – be sure to eat a high fiber diet to keep everything moving the way that it should.
Analyze your fluid intake
Bladder leakage can be affected by either drinking too many fluids, drinking too few fluids or drinking fluids that cause bladder irritation. If you’re drinking fluids well in excess of 64 ounces a day, try cutting back to the often-cited recommendation of eight, 8-ounce glasses each day. The more fluids you consume, the more you’ll expel, so by keeping your fluid consumption at a sufficient, but moderate level, you’ll be less likely to find yourself on a mad dash to the bathroom.
If you’ve tried to manage leakage by cutting back on fluids, you may just be doing yourself a disservice. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that limiting fluids can cause bladder and urethra irritation, ultimately leading to more leakage. Plus, urine is more concentrated when fluids are limited, causing a stronger smell when leakage does occur. Instead of cutting back on fluids, try drinking small amounts of water steadily throughout the day. Putting yourself on this type of water drinking schedule will help prevent you from overtaxing your bladder while also helping you stay adequately hydrated.
Finally, if you regularly consume caffeine or alcohol, consider cutting back. Both of these substances are diuretics, which means they can increase the need to urinate.
Check your weight
It’s possible for significant weight gain to cause pelvic floor weakness, particularly in women. Though weight loss won’t be an overnight solution to light incontinence, consider talking to a doctor, registered dietician or fitness professional about programs to help you slim down and tone up, if you’re overweight.
Get and stay active
Many women suffer from stress incontinence – bladder leakage caused by stress or stressors like coughing, sneezing, running and jumping. If you’ve cut back on exercising because it was a trigger for leakage, it may be time to head back to the gym. The Mayo Clinic points out that moderate physical activity may actually help control incontinence. If you’re worried about leaks, try hitting the bathroom before you begin exercising, then head back at predetermined intervals during your routine. For extra precaution go ahead and wear a pad designed specifically for light bladder leakage, like the pads available from Poise.
Do your Kegels
Kegel exercises are designed to help you strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor, which can help prevent bladder leakage. Pelvic floor muscles also support the bladder during everyday movements like walking, lifting or even sneezing, so keeping them strong is especially helpful for women experiencing stress incontinence. To perform a Kegel, simply squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you were trying to stop or prevent yourself from urinating. Talk to your doctor to see if there’s a certain number of repetitions or regimen that he or she recommends you follow.