Loss of bladder control, whether temporary or permanent, can be embarrassing and isolating. When you doubt your ability to control urination fully, you might begin to avoid social situations. Even a sneeze or cough can turn into a potentially mortifying situation.
Urinary incontinence can be treated medically, and there are ways you can help yourself, depending on the reasons for your incontinence. At Bayview General Medicine, we’re here to help. Dr. Richard Blanchar and his team can help with diagnosis and treatment while offering suggestions for effective lifestyle changes.
Types of incontinence
Occasional, minor leaks of urine affect many people. While urinary incontinence isn’t an inevitable part of aging, it’s more common as the population ages. However, it’s not a singular problem; several types of urinary incontinence exist. These include:
- Urge incontinence: a sudden, intense need to urinate, causing leakage before you reach a toilet
- Stress incontinence: leakage related to an action, like sneezing, running, or laughter
- Overflow incontinence: resulting from incomplete emptying of the bladder, sometimes linked to chronic diseases
You can have more than one type of urinary incontinence active at the same time. It can be important to track leakage issues to help diagnose the type of incontinence(s) you have.
Avoid these things if you have urinary incontinence
Regardless of the reasons for incontinence, some triggers can make leakage episodes more likely. Consider avoiding these triggers to help bypass urinary mishaps.
This might seem counterintuitive, but you should drink enough fluid to produce a urinary urge every few hours. The urine concentration during hydration periods can irritate the bladder and aggravate incontinence.
The exception to the liquids rule includes drinks containing acids, alcohol, and caffeine. These beverages can lead to fluid loss, but they also cause bladder irritation, bringing on more frequent urination and causing an urge incontinence issue called overactive bladder (OAB).
Another risk factor for urge and stress incontinence is weight gain, which may increase the pressure on organs in the abdomen. This includes the bladder and increases your risk of OAB.
As well as increasing the amount you cough, a trigger of stress incontinence, tobacco use may increase bladder irritation and raise your risk of bladder cancer.
While it’s a different body system, constipation affects urinary tract health. A high-fiber diet, good hydration, and physical activity keep bowel movements soft and regular. It’s particularly important to avoid constipation if you’re taking certain drugs for urinary incontinence.
Blood sugar swings
For those with diabetes, avoid losing control over blood sugar levels. Chronically high blood sugar levels can increase the amount of urine your body produces, resulting in urge incontinence.
Contact Bayview General Medicine for help with incontinence management. You can request an appointment online or by calling our office directly. Other lifestyle changes you can make, including regular pelvic floor exercises, bladder training, and toilet scheduling, can help you regain control over bladder function, so book your consultation today.