All about urinary incontinence and what you can do about it
If you think incontinence only affects old people, think again. In fact incontinence is fairly common and affects both men and women. Due to reasons such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause, incontinence affects twice as many women compared to men.
What is urinary incontinence?
Simply put, urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control and the two most common types of urinary incontinence to affect women are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence is when urine leaks when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise or lift something heavy as these can all exert pressure on your bladder.
Urge incontinence is when you have a sudden and intense urge to urinate accompanied by an involuntary loss of urinate. This may cause you to urinate more often, both day and night. Urge incontinence is usually a result of a minor condition, such as infection or a more severe condition such as diabetes.
Rest assured urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging and you don’t have to live with it – it can be treated for a better quality of life.
What can you do to treat urinary incontinence?
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises and / or Kegel exercises can improve the tone of the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. However it’s important that such exercises are done correctly for them to be effective in the long run. If done correctly, it may take around 3 months for you to notice the benefits.
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine irritates the bladder which can worsen incontinence. Coffee has the biggest effect with fizzy drinks, tea, green tea, energy drinks and hot chocolate following behind. Cut down on such drinks and replace with water and herbal and fruit teas.
Alcohol on the other hand is a diuretic, which will make you urinate more frequently. Reducing your intake on alcohol can help with incontinence.
Lifting, especially heavy items, puts a strain on your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid lifting whenever you can and if for the times you really need to, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift.
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