Taking control of incontinence

Millions of people find their lives disrupted by the urge to urinate suddenly and lose bladder control before reaching a bathroom. Urinary incontinence, or over-active bladder, is a common, yet often embarrassing condition that occurs in women and men of all ages. If an overactive bladder is disrupting your life, speak with your physician/provider. With a complete evaluation and treatment plan you can lead an active life, free of the physical and emotional problems caused by urinary incontinence.

Taking Control of Urinary Incontinence

Nancy Sullivan, C.N.M., with the Providence Continence Center, finds many patients are embarrassed to seek help. “Urinary incontinence can develop for any number of reasons and isn't a disease, but a symptom of an underlying problem. Together with your physician, you can find the right treatment to regain control of your bladder – so it's not controlling you,” says Sullivan.

The Most Common Types of Incontinence

  • Stress incontinence occurs when you sneeze, cough, or laugh and results in a small amount of urine leakage. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence.
  • Urge incontinence, sometimes called overactive bladder, is a sudden, urgent need to urinate and is so strong you cannot reach the bathroom in time.
  • There are many effective treatments for urinary incontinence, including medication and surgery. However, there are other easy steps you can take to curb an overactive bladder.

General Advice for Staying in Control

  • Control your weight. Being overweight places a burden on your pelvic floor muscles and even losing a small amount of weight can improve your bladder control.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks and any drink with caffeine or artificial sweeteners.
  • Work to empty the bladder only four to six times a day and one to two times at night.
  • Stop drinking fluids two hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid constipation. Straining while emptying the bowels can have a weakening effect on the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Regular exercise plays a key role in staying healthy. If this means wearing protection, then pad up and play on!
  • Pelvic floor muscle conditioning plays a vital role in the prevention and management of incontinence. A physical therapist can develop exercises – that when done diligently and correctly – can produce positive results in controlling your bladder.

Fluids and Foods to Avoid

Not all of these foods may affect your bladder control. Experiment by reducing certain foods or fluids in your diet to find out what affects you.

  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Coffee and teas (even decaffeinated)
  • Alcohol
  • Medicines with caffeine
  • Citrus juice and fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Spicy foods
  • Chocolate

For more information, contact the Providence Continence Center at 503-216-6225.

GoodHealth News - Providence Health Plans