Help For A Leaky Blad­der

Colleen Shan­non, our Health Writer, dis­cov­ers there’s a lot you can do about this com­mon prob­lem.

The People's Friend - - Health & Wellbeing -

ARE you ner­vous about sneez­ing, cough­ing or hav­ing a laugh be­cause it might cause an em­bar­rass­ing ac­ci­dent? These are some of the times when your blad­der can leak, if you have a con­di­tion called stress in­con­ti­nence.

Even though it’s very com­mon, many women wait years be­fore they seek help from a health pro­fes­sional. Some never men­tion it to any­one, and soldier on alone.

This is un­for­tu­nate be­cause there are many ways to im­prove the symp­toms and have a bet­ter qual­ity of life.

This is what I heard from Emma Chap­pel, a Be­nign Urol­ogy Clin­i­cal Nurse Spe­cial­ist and a mem­ber of coun­cil for the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Uro­log­i­cal Nurses (BAUN).

With stress in­con­ti­nence, leaks can also oc­cur when you are walk­ing, run­ning or lift­ing some­thing heavy. It can be any­thing from just a few drops to a stream.

It hap­pens be­cause the mus­cles sup­port­ing the blad­der and around the urine tube (ure­thra) have weak­ened. This can be due to phys­i­cal changes like preg­nancy and child­birth, the menopause, or some types of surgery. Be­ing over­weight also puts pres­sure on the mus­cles.

If you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing these symp­toms, your GP can help. They can re­fer you to a hospi­tal spe­cial­ist if this is needed.

Or you may be able to at­tend an NHS con­ti­nence clinic, which is run by nurses like Emma. De­pend­ing on where you live, this might re­quire a GP re­fer­ral, or you might be able to re­fer your­self.

Phys­io­ther­a­pists who spe­cialise in women’s health can also help with stress in­con­ti­nence.

The first thing your health pro­fes­sional might rec­om­mend is keep­ing a blad­der di­ary, record­ing what you drink, how much, and when you visit the loo.

If your fluid in­take is too low, or too high, ad­just­ing this to the right level can help. Caf­feine stim­u­lates the blad­der, so you might be ad­vised to limit tea and cof­fee.

The blad­der can also be trained, by stick­ing to a rec­om­mended sched­ule for us­ing the toi­let.

Los­ing weight can ease the pres­sure on your blad­der, if this is a prob­lem.

Your GP, nurse or phys­io­ther­a­pist can also ex­plain how to do pelvic floor ex­er­cises, which strengthen the mus­cles that sup­port your blad­der.

If these steps are not enough, some peo­ple take med­i­ca­tion, or have surgery or other pro­ce­dures to fix the prob­lem.

Along­side your treat­ment and life­style changes, you may de­cide to use pads to stay dry. You may be able to get these sup­plied free on an NHS pre­scrip­tion.

You can find more in­for­ma­tion from the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Uro­log­i­cal Sur­geons at www.baus.org.uk/pa­tients and on the NHS web­site at www.nhs.uk.

If you are hav­ing blad­der probems, please don’t be em­bar­rassed to ask for help from a health pro­fes­sional. There are many op­tions and you might be sur­prised how much your con­fi­dence and ev­ery­day life can be im­proved. n

There’s no need to suf­fer in si­lence

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