BOTHERSOME BATHROOM BREAKS BE GONE!
TURN OFF YOUR LEAKY BLADDER WITHOUT PILLS OR SURGERY
Look to these tips to ease tell-tale symptoms of a bad bladder.
Just as you can call a plumber to fix an annoying, drippy faucet, an increasing number of adults are relieved to learn that bladder control issues are no longer something they have to tolerate. There are drug-free, nonsurgical alternatives to spending $300 a month on diapers. (Who knew that adult diapers would become an $8 billion industry?)
Having an overactive or leaky bladder can be embarrassing and life-altering, but if you’re suffering from this condition, you’re not alone. An estimated 42 million Americans suffer from overactive bladder, and about 38 million of those are either untreated or undertreated.
There are four forms of urinary incontinence:
1. Stress incontinence is when you trickle urine as you sneeze, laugh, or cough
2. Urge incontinence is when you feel a constant urge to urinate, and you’re always rushing to make it to the bathroom in time
3. Mixed incontinence is when you experience a combination of stress and urge incontinence
4. Overflow incontinence is when your bladder never fully empties. You might experience this as a result of having diabetes. It may also be a side effect of certain drugs (including anti-depressants) that relax the bladder and make it more difficult to empty.
Overactive bladders aren’t just a condition affecting the elderly, although it’s estimated to affect more than one third of people older than 65. This condition also affects people in their 20s who have issues with bed wetting, and women in their 30s and 40s whose muscles are weakened by childbirth.
While there are at least 10 prescription medications on the market for treating urge and mixed incontinence, almost all have side effects including dry mouth, blurred vision, and constipation. It’s no wonder that nearly 80 percent of people stop taking these medications within the first year. Botox injections directly into the bladder or a bladder pacemaker device are more invasive options.
AN ESTIMATED 42 MILLION AMERICANS SUFFER FROM OVERACTIVE BLADDER
TIPS FOR STAYING DRIER, NATURALLY A lot of people ask me if there are any vitamins or nutritional supplements which might relieve urinary incontinence symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no scientific proof that supplements can help cure any form of this condition, but there are strategies that work. An overactive bladder can affect relationships, disrupt sleep, and take a heavy toll on quality of life. The following strategies are giving people their lives back:
1. Kegel exercises. These pelvic floor exercises can be about 70-percent effective for stress and urge incontinence, but about 50 percent of women are doing them wrong. The best way to improve technique is with the help of biofeedback. With this approach, a sensor is inserted into the vagina. It is connected to a machine that enables you to see if you are using the right muscles. A beneficial side effect of biofeedback is that it uses some electrical stimulation which also helps strengthen the muscles.
2. Urgent PC. This is a low-risk, officebased treatment, and the good news is that almost everyone with an overactive bladder (except those with cardiac pacemakers) is a good candidate for it. You just remove one shoe and sock. A thin needle is placed near a nerve in your ankle. A handheld device is connected to the stimulator to send gentle electrical impulses to indirectly stimulate nerves in the pelvic area responsible for bladder control. These impulses produce a mild tingling that is similar to how it feels when your
IT’S OKAY TO EAT LOW-ACID ALTERNATIVE FOODS INCLUDING APRICOTS, PAPAYAS, WATERMELON, AND NON-CITRUS HERBAL TEA.
foot falls asleep. In fact, many patients are so relaxed that they make phone calls or read during the treatment. Patients receive 30-minute outpatient treatments once a week for 12 weeks to determine maximum response. After that, the improvements can be sustained with monthly treatments. It’s about 80-percent effective, and the procedure is covered by Medicare. There are no significant downsides or side effects.
3. Monitor fluid intake. Don’t restrict your fluid intake. If you’re thirsty, by all means drink fluids! Allowing yourself to become dehydrated may lead to more concentrated urine. This can irritate your bladder and actually increase your urge to go. Dehydration can also create an ideal environment for bacteria, which could cause urinary tract infections. Just as important, don’t drink more water than is appropriate for your weight.
4. Get in the habit of timed voiding. A lot of busy people try to hold their urine all day. By the time they stop to go to the bathroom, it’s an emergency situation. Try going to the bathroom every two or three hours, even if you don’t feel the urge. Timed voiding is helpful, especially if you are dealing with urges that often come without much warning.
5. Limit coffee, tea, and alcohol. These act like diuretics, which can make leakage worse.
6. Maintain a healthy weight. Studies show that overweight women are at greater risk of incontinence than women who are at their ideal body weight. That may be because excess weight around your hips and tummy places extra pressure on your bladder, increasing the urge to go.
7. Get fit. Exercise is good for more than your heart and weight. Consistent, moderate exercise benefits your entire body, including muscles in your pelvic area.
8. Reduce stress. Anxiety and stress can also intensify overactive bladder symptoms. FOODS YOU MIGHT WANT TO AVOID Some healthcare professionals believe that dietary changes may be able to alter bladder control issues by decreasing the urinary pH so urine is less acidic. My bottom-line advice: Keep a food diary. Recording your bladder symptoms can provide you with keen insight into their potential triggers. Jot down your fluid intake as well as any use of caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, which have been associated with overactive bladder. Switch to water if you’re concerned about extra calories. If a specific food, beverage, or ingredient seems to irritate your bladder, avoid it!
It’s okay to eat low-acid alternative foods including apricots, papayas, watermelon, and non-citrus herbal tea. Also, make sure you’re consuming the recommended amount of dietary fiber each day. Remember that your bladder and colon are next to one another in your body, which means that chronic constipation can put extra pressure on your bladder. If you aren’t getting 25 grams of fiber every day, consider taking a daily soluble fiber supplement.
While there is no cure for an overactive bladder, the measures I’ve outlined can reduce or eliminate bothersome symptoms for most patients. If you can’t remember the last time you sat through an entire movie without getting up to go to the bathroom, or you scope out the bathroom locations wherever you go—see a professional. Get your overactive bladder evaluated and treated.