5 Ways to Battle Urinary Incontinence

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5 Ways to Battle Urinary Incontinence

You may feel like you’re alone, but the truth is that millions of Americans suffer from urinary incontinence. Men and women alike fall prey to bladder leakage; however, menopause, pregnancy and childbirth mean females are two times more likely to have incontinence issues. Approximately one in every four women between the ages of 18 and 44 suffers from bladder leakage, and the prevalence of incontinence increases with age for both men and women. There are many different possible causes for urinary incontinence, so seeking a medical diagnosis will help you get to the root of your specific case. In the meantime, there are several steps you can take today to battle the situation and get your life back.

1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

Limit or completely avoid beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine. Not only do both substances act as diuretics and increase urination, they also irritate the bladder, which can exacerbate your incontinence problems.

2. Plan fluid intake accordingly

Sufficient fluid intake is imperative for those dealing with leakage. It helps prevent constipation and keeps bacteria from building up in the bladder and urethrae, and all three of these issues can lead to cases of incontinence. However, if you know you’ll be out and about or engaging in an activity that puts pressure on your bladder, consume smaller amounts of fluids to prevent excessive urine production.

3. Strengthen your pelvic floor

Strengthening the muscles that support and manipulate your urinary system is one of the most effective steps you can take to battle incontinence. Accumulatively, these muscles are known as the pelvic floor and form a sling that supports the underside of your pelvis. Kegels (where you contract and relax the muscles that start and stop the flow of urine) are the go-to exercise for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. In addition to your daily Kegels, exercises such as the glute bridge, squat and pelvic tilt are also useful moves to strength your pelvic floor.

4. Exercise regularly

Exercise lessens the effects of constipation, which is known to lead to urinary incontinence. Symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression are also reduced through exercise—a useful benefit for those living with bladder leakage. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, avoiding activities that put undue stress and pressure on your pelvic floor (such as heavy lifting).

5. Follow a wholesome diet

Finally, similar to regular exercise, a nutritious, fiber-rich diet will reduce your chances of constipation and lessen the strain on your pelvic floor. Avoid foods that cause you to be gassy, as this can put increased pressure on your abdominal cavity and pelvic floor muscles. In addition, be sure to make dietary changes gradually in order to prevent any unwelcome side effects.

Sources:
Phoenix Physical Therapy, PLC: Urinary Incontinence in Women Statistics
Continence Foundation of Australia: Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

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