Do you urinate more frequently than other people? Do you have problems emptying your bladder fully? Do you sometimes get to the toilet too late? If so, you might have urge incontinence.
You’re not alone. Urge incontinence is one of the most common types of urinary incontinence, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Also known as “overactive bladder,” urge incontinence causes sufferers to feel the need to urinate even if their bladders are not full. Some sufferers experience leakage because of the condition, which can lead to embarrassment, relationship difficulties, or a withdrawal from social activities.
If leakage from urge incontinence is a problem for you or a loved one, don’t despair. It is possible to lead a completely normal life with urge incontinence. Here are 10 ways you can stop this condition from disrupting your life or the life of a loved one.
10 Ways to Fight Urge Incontinence
- Try Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises focus on the pelvic floor muscles. Although they are recommended primarily for stress incontinence, they can also help people with urge incontinence.
- Experiment with your diet. Some foods and fluids are more likely than others to irritate the bladder. You may want to try omitting alcohol, caffeine, sugar substitutes, spicy foods, highly acidic foods (e.g., tomatoes and oranges), or foods with lots of sugar for short periods of time and note the results of these experiments in a diary. You may observe some trends, and you can adjust your diet accordingly for the longer-term.
- Cut down on your liquid intake, but not too much. Drinking too much fluid will naturally prompt you to urinate more frequently, so be mindful of the amounts you consume. That said, if you don’t drink enough liquid, your urine might become overly concentrated, which is irritating to the bladder and also has a strong odor. Therefore, it’s best to find a happy medium.
- Talk to your doctor about the side effects of the medications you take. It is possible that these side effects influence bladder function. Here is a list of potential culprits from Caring.com.
- Try bladder training. In bladder training, you practice waiting to urinate until your bladder is completely full.
- Try medications for overactive bladder. There are three types of medications that can help, according to Caring.com: anticholinergics/antispasmodics, estrogen (for symptoms that begin in menopause), and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine is a bladder-irritant.
- Try biofeedback. Biofeedback is a form of pelvic muscle training with instruments, including sensors. The National Association for Continence offers a detailed description here.
- Try special underwear designed to control leakage and odor.
- Use waterproof, washable underpads and bedpads that absorb accidents.
The successful management of urge incontinence varies from person to person. What works for you might not work for someone else. But chances are, one or more of the above suggestions will help you or your loved one surmount the challenges of urge incontinence and go back to leading a normal life.