Options for the Aging
Under a doctor's care, incontinence can be treated and often cured. Today, there are more treatments for urinary incontinence than ever before. The choice of treatment depends on the type of bladder control problem you have, how serious it is, and what best suits your lifestyle. As a general rule, the simplest and safest treatments should be tried first.
Bladder Control Training
Your doctor may suggest that you try to get back control of your bladder through training. With bladder training, you can change how the bladder stores and empties urine. There are several ways to do this.
- Biofeedback- This helps you become more aware of the signals from your body. This may help you regain control over the muscles in the bladder and urethra. Biofeedback can also be used to help teach pelvic muscle exercises
Pelvic Muscle Exercises: Kegels- These exercises work the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine or to keep from passing gas. Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer. These exercises are easy to do. They can lessen or rid you of stress and urge incontinence. Often doctors suggest that you squeeze and hold these muscles for a certain count, and then relax them. Repeat this several times. You will probably need to do these each time you urinate, especially, when you first begin doing the Kegels. Timed Voiding and Bladder Training - This technique can help you control your bladder by charting urination and leaking to determine the pattern. Once you see a pattern, you can go to the bathroom at those times to
- empty your bladder before it has an opportunity to leak. When combined with biofeedback and pelvic muscle exercises, these methods may help you better control urge and overflow incontinence.
Lifestyle Changes to Control Incontinence
- Pay Attention to Diet- Among foods and drinks that may worsen incontinence are alcoholic beverages, caffeine-containing foods and drinks, spicy foods, high-acid foods such as citrus fruits and juices, and carbonated drinks. If you notice symptoms of urinary incontinence worsen after you have any of these foods or drinks, try cutting back on them, if not eliminating them from your diet completely.
- Monitor Fluid Intake- Keeping your daily water intake to a quart or so may help. However, talk to your doctor before making any major changes to your fluid intake.
- Drink More Cranberry Juice- The acidic nature of cranberry juice has been known to improve bladder function. This natural solution might just be the one for you.
Medical Procedures for Incontinence
When lifestyle adjustments are not enough, turn to your doctor for additional suggestions.
- Medication- A doctor can prescribe medicines to treat incontinence. Some drugs prevent unwanted bladder contractions. Some relax muscles, helping the bladder to empty more fully during urination. Others tighten muscles in the bladder and urethra to cut down on leakage. These drugs can sometimes cause side effects such as dry mouth, eye problems, or urine buildup.
Pessary - Sometimes doctors suggest a small, throwaway patch; a small, tampon-like urethral plug; or a vaginal insert called a pessary for women
with stress incontinence.
- Implant- A doctor can inject an implant into the area around the urethra. The implant adds bulk. This helps close the urethra to reduce stress incontinence. Injections may have to be repeated after time as your body slowly gets rid of these substances.
- Surgery- Sometimes surgery can improve or cure incontinence, if it is caused by a problem such as a change in the position of the bladder or blockage due to an enlarged prostate. The most common surgery for stress incontinence involves pulling the bladder up and securing it to the abdominal wall. When stress incontinence is serious, the surgeon may use a wide sling. This holds up the bladder and narrows the urethra to prevent leakage.
No matter what method you choose to help alleviate urinary incontinence, it is important to involve your physician for his/her advice and expertise. Remember to always start with the simplest solution first, as this may be all the help you require to live a leak-free life.