Thankfully incontinence is not a life-threatening medical condition. However, it can significantly affect your quality of life. Those suffering from incontinence often stop traveling, visiting family and friends, and exercising. Basically, incontinence stops people doing the activities they love.
However, approximately 70% of urinary incontinence can be significantly improved simply be changing behavioural habits. Behavioural therapy, either alone or in combination with medication therapy, was more effective than medication alone.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence, like many conditions, exists on a spectrum. It can either be very minimal, leaking only a few drops, or very severe, soaking clothing and furniture.
There are two common types of urinary incontinence. These are stress incontinence or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urge incontinence or urgency urinary incontinence (UUI).
SUI leakage occurs when you cough, sneeze, lift, exercise, or exert yourself. UUI is the urge to urinate, and leak before you make it to a bathroom.
Thankfully, there are a number options when it comes to treating and managing incontinence. Not only are there medications, non-surgical and surgical interventions, as well as incontinence pants, behavioural modifications also play a significant role.
These 4 behavioural changes can help you improve your bladder control and better manage your condition – or reverse it altogether!
1: Drinking the Right Amount and Kinds of Fluids
Many people don’t realise that what you drink, and how much you drink, can affect your incontinence or cause incontinence. Too much fluid, from water to soft drinks, to coffee and juices, can increase the likelihood of urinary incontinence. Soft drinks, coffee and other dinks often contain caffeine or similar diuretics, which makes you need the bathroom more often.
Too much fluid, even water, can lead to an overactive bladder or OAB. OAB symptoms include the need to urinate frequently and urgently. Many people with OAB need to get up through the night to use the bathroom.
Drinking too much fluid can also increase stress incontinence. Think of the bladder like a balloon filled with water. There is a rubber band wrapped at the neck. If the balloon is really full, however, and you squeeze it, water will leak out.
As a result, it is best to work out the right fluid intake for your body. While it is often recommended that we have 8 glasses of water a day, that can be too much or too little for some people. Work out what works for your body and ensure you spread your fluid intake throughout the day.
2: Limit Caffeine
As discussed above, caffeine is a diuretic. Caffeine stimulates the kidneys to make urine at a faster than normal rate. Your bladder does not like to be filled rapidly. As a result, they react by becoming overactive or squeezing down (or spasming) when they should not. This makes it more likely that you will experience UUI.
Try to minimise or stop your daily caffeine intake. If you absolutely have to have some caffeine, try to limit it as much as possible.
3: Train Your Bladder
If you feel the need to urinate frequently, you can utilise bladder training. Bladder training involves spacing out your trips to the bathroom. If you urinate every hour, try to make yourself wait at least an hour and a half before your next trip to the bathroom.
Once you are comfortable waiting for an hour and a half, try extending it to two hours and so on. Try to make your goal 3-4 hours between urinating. While it may take several months to achieve, it is worth it for your quality of life.
4: Pelvic Floor Exercises
Performing pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels, helps you tighten up or contract our pelvic floor muscles. You should feel the contraction more to the back than the front.
Kegels can help with both SUI and UUI but you can time the exercise differently depending on the type of incontinence you are trying to control.
If you feel the urge to urinate and don’t feel like you can make it to the bathroom, stop and do a Kegel. Wait until the urgency subsides then walk to the toilet under control. The more you do this, the more your bladder control will improve. It may take months, however, to see significant improvement.
If you suffer from stress incontinence, Kegel exercises can help pull tissue up under the urethra, helping keep the urethra closed when pressure hits the bladder. The rick is to Kegel before pressure hits the bladder. This means if you feel a sneeze coming, you need to tighten at the moment of inhaling. This will take practice, but you will see a difference.
If you are suffering from incontinence, speak to your GP or gynaecologist. Not only can they help you find a solution for your incontinence issues, they can also refer you to the appropriate specialists.
Need help managing incontinence? Holistic Incontinence offers a wide range of incontinence products to help you improve your quality of life. Explore our range today or speak to our helpful representatives to find the right products for your needs.