Twenty-fourteen is finally here! Every year, people make New Year’s resolutions to better themselves or some aspect of their life. This year, we encourage you to make goals to improve your bladder habits, and ultimately gain control over your leaky bladder.
Turn kegel exercises into a daily habit.
Kegels are exercises that help strengthen the muscles used to control urine flow. Pelvic floor exercises can help treat bladder leakage due to pregnancy, menopause, prostate surgery, and medication, to name a few. Probably the two best things about kegels are that no one will know that you’re doing them and that it can improve your sex life.
So how do you do kegels? Start by finding the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles you use to stop your urine midstream. Now empty your bladder and practice contracting those kegel muscles without urinating. Squeeze and hold for a couple of seconds, and repeat this for 15 minutes, three times a day. The trick to doing kegels is to do them correctly and consistently, i.e. in the morning, afternoon, and evening. If there’s any habit you pick up during the new year, it should be doing kegels.
Modify your diet.
Eating healthy is a common goal that makes its way onto New Year’s Resolutions lists each year. But did you know that what you eat can make a difference in your bladder control? Certain foods can irritate the bladder, causing frequent urination or urine leakage. The most common food bladder irritants are: spicy foods, acidic & citrus foods, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, tomatoes and tomato based products.
Keep in mind that these bladder irritants won’t affect everyone. Hot pepper may send you running to the bathroom, but it could do nothing to another person. To figure out which foods your bladder can tolerate, try eliminating one from your diet and see how it affects your bladder control. Then slowly reintroduce the food back into your diet and note any changes in urine urgency or frequency. Record your findings in a bladder journal to help you determine how you can improve urine control.
Monitor your fluid intake.
Just like how certain foods can irritate the bladder, there are certain drinks that can trigger spasms, too. This includes: alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, tea and citrus juices.
Again, bladder irritants vary depending on the individual. Test our your bladder’s tolerance by taking one out of your diet, reintroducing it back into your diet, and observing any changes in your bladder control.
Water is the best fluid for your bladder. You might think that if you drink less, you’ll have to urinate less. However, restricting fluids will only make you dehydrated and constipated, which will irritate the bladder.
Exercise seems to be on top of most people’s To-Do lists, even if it’s not part of their New Year’s resolutions. With work, school, family, and friends, you might find it difficult to find time to exercise.
However, if you are overweight or obese, you might be interested to know that your health condition can play a role in your bladder control problems. Excess weight puts pressure onto the bladder, causing it to spasm and release urine often. Studies have found that losing weight can significantly reduce stress incontinence symptoms.
So for this new year, take some time to add exercise into your everyday life. Take the longer way home when doing your morning jog. At work, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away from the grocery store. Rock out in your kitchen when making dinner. You can never be “too busy” or “too tired” to get active.
In addition to better bladder control, exercise can also decrease the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health conditions.
Hopefully you’ll incorporate some of these goals onto your own New Year’s resolutions list. These behavioral changes may take a while before you see any changes in your bladder control. Incontinence is a symptom that can be caused by underlying medical conditions – you won’t know how to treat it until you find out the cause. If bladder problems continue to persist, please contact your doctor.
Here’s to a healthier bladder in 2014. Happy New Year!