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Urinary incontinence is unintended urine leakage that occurs due to loss of control over urinary sphincter, muscles that enables you to hold urine in the bladder. Surprisingly, urinary incontinence is a common problem that affects about 30 60% of middle aged women.
In India, incontinence due to physical stress caused by actions like coughing, sneezing or exertion is more common with almost 73% of women suffering from it. These actions increase the pressure on intra-abdominal region and affect the functioning of urinary sphincter in the absence of a bladder contraction. It is often caused by weakened pelvic muscles.
Some of you might be suffering from this problem silently because you feel too embarrassed to share it with anyone. You are not alone. It's estimated that on an average women suffering from incontinence wait for almost 8 years before seeking medical help. But, why to wait if you can live an incontinence-free life by making minor changes in your lifestyle? Here are a few effective ways to put an end to your battle with leakage problems.
1. Drink fluids in moderation: People generally have the tendency to avoid drinking water in order to cut down the number of visits to the bathroom. But, if you have incontinence this habit can actually worsen your symptoms. By drinking less water, your urine will become concentrated which again will aggravate your bladder. It can also lead to constipation. Read more about how not drinking enough water can lead to urinary bladder infections.
Drink water in moderation; about 5-8 glasses every day. Again if you have incontinence drinking too much water is also not good. This can pressurize your bladder and make it more difficult for you to hold urine.
2. Empty the bladder completely: Ensure that you empty your bladder completely every time you urinate, especially before going to bed. Holding urine back can cause leakage at nights.
3. Lose weight: Urinary incontinence is common in overweight and obese women. Obesity tends to weaken the pelvic floor muscles and can exert pressure on your urinary bladder causing leakage. Losing weight reduces the pressure, and in most obese women who lost weight, the symptoms have improved significantly. Read how obesity also increases the risk of kidney diseases. Here are a simple guide on weight loss.
4. Avoid drinking tea and coffee: Caffeine causes the kidneys to increase the production of urine (diuretic effect) so your urinary bladder will fill up quickly and you will feel the urge to urinate more frequently. Caffeine also irritates the bladder and induces more contractions which makes you feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. If you just can't do without tea or coffee then at least reduce the intake to 2 cups in a day. Also, it's best to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening. Here's more information on effects of caffeine on health.
5. Stop drinking alcohol: Alcohol again is a diuretic which can worsen the symptoms of incontinence by further irritating the bladder.
6. Treat digestive problems: Digestive problems like constipation and diarrhoea can increase the strain the pelvic muscles and irritate the bladder. Get them treated instantly. Eat healthy fibre rich food to treat digestive problems. Read more health benefits of eating fibre-rich foods.
7. Read labels on medications: A few drugs like antihistamines, beta-blockers, metoprolol can cause incomplete emptying of bladder (overflow incontinence). Drugs like furosemide may increase urinary output. Read the warning labels carefully before taking medicines. It's better to inform your doctor about your incontinence problem if you're prescribed these medications.
8. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel's exercises): Kegel exercise help to strengthen your sphincter muscles and are effective in treating incontinence issues. The easiest exercise is to squeeze your pelvic muscles tightly and then relax. Repeat this at least 5 times as fast as you can. Relax for 5-10 seconds, and then do it again. Read more about how Kegel exercises can improve your sex life.
Also read: 10 tips to prevent kidney disease.
Here are top 4 articles on kidney and bladder health
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