Are you finding yourself confused about how to handle your urinary incontinence or bladder leakage issue?
Do you notice leakage when you lift something or sneeze?
Do you limit your activities or how much water you drink due to being embarrassed or nervous that you might leak or wet your pants?
As a leading in-home provider of physical therapy and occupational therapy services in the Greater Milwaukee area, some seniors have shared their issues with us surrounding urinary incontinence and how it has been something they lived with for a long period of time (...some even shared for a lifetime). The problem is that some older adults are not aware there can be a solution to managing bladder leakage and getting back to wearing pants and NOT pads.
Bladder leakage is common, but that does not mean that it is a normal part of aging!
There are solutions to dealing with involuntary urine leakage without the use of medication. It is common for both women and men to suffer from this condition until they receive the proper treatment.
There are five main types of bladder leakage or urinary incontinence:
Urinary stress incontinence can occur with coughing, sneezing, jumping, lifting, running, or other physical activities.
Urinary urge incontinence occurs with only a quick warning with a sudden urge to pass urine and leak prior to reaching a toilet.
Functional incontinence occurs even without a strong urge to urinate but may leak on the way to the toilet. This can contribute to increasing your risk of falling.
Urinary frequency incontinence is feeling the need to urinate often during the day and more than one time during the night. Pelvic floor weakness is frequently a cause of urinary incontinence and it is also a cause of pelvic, hip, and/or low back pain.
Mixed incontinence is when you may experience leakage with both coughing/sneezing (stress incontinence) AND when you are heading to the bathroom (urge incontinence).
There are many reasons for involuntary urine loss and there are different types of urinary incontinence. It may involve difficulty in initiating a urine stream or holding urine and it involves the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles function to control urine, feces, gas, and sexual function, in addition to supporting internal organs, the spine, and the pelvis.
Here are 9 easy ways to manage urinary incontinence or bladder leakage as you age...
1) Engage pelvic floor muscles before sneezing or coughing
Both coughing and sneezing cause a fast increase in pressure on the bladder. Squeezing the pelvic floor muscles beforehand can help prevent bladder leakage.
2) Acidic foods can irritate the bladder
Foods high in acid irritate the bladder causing increased urgency and frequency of urination. For example, tomato-based foods such as marinara sauce in pasta dishes and on pizza are high in acidic content. Citrus and spicy foods are too.
3) Sugar and artificial sweeteners can irritate the bladder
Keep an eye on the amount of diet soda or other artificially flavored drinks and foods. These sweeteners contain chemicals and dyes that irritate the bladder lining, causing increased urgency and frequency.
4) Constipation contributes to bladder leakage
This increases pressure on the bladder and nerves in the pelvis. This gain increases the urgency and frequency of urination. Repetitive straining during a bowel movement often results in nerve damage and pelvic pain.
5) Limit prolonged sitting
Although sitting is required for many of the things we do, we are not meant to sit. When we sit in a slumped or slouched posture, it creates increased pressure and strain in the hips, lower back, and pelvic floor. While sitting, allow for the natural curvature of your lower back by tilting your pelvic bone down and your pelvic floor to expand. Ensure that you have equal weight-bearing side to side. This will naturally bring your head over your neck, decreasing the strain on your shoulders.
6) Maintain a regular bathroom schedule
Empty your bladder when you feel the urge. Try to avoid “holding” your urine for long periods because this causes a strain on the muscles. This strain can create muscle tightness, weakness, and pain. Just as with any muscle that is overloaded, the pelvic floor muscles will suffer from muscle fatigue and can lead to muscle failure and if prolonged, to injury. Have you ever done something for a prolonged period and it resulted in an injury of an elbow, neck, or back? This same type of injury can occur with the pelvic floor and it can result in an inability to control urine.
Also, consider utilizing a bladder diary. Tracking your bathroom routine may seem a little strange at first, but it will help you with identifying trends over time and learn what types of foods and drinks might be contributing to your incontinence.
7) Hydrate with healthy fluids
Healthy fluids include water. Refrain from overdrinking beverages with caffeine, alcohol, sugar, or artificial sweeteners, which are bladder irritants. Hydration is integral to our health, wellbeing, and body functions. Hydration ensures that our muscles work properly. Dehydration causes muscle inefficiency and pain.
8) Try incorporating deep breathing and relaxation
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Focus on your breathing. Notice any areas of tension in your body as you inhale and exhale. Take notice of how your abdomen, rib cage, pelvis, and lower back feel as you inhale and exhale. Do they expand or feel restricted? Now bring your attention to your pelvic floor muscles. This is a group of muscles that attach to the pelvic bone and the sacrum (located at the base of the spine). Notice any tension, discomfort, or pain that you may have.
When you inhale allow your abdomen to expand outward and feel this expansion outward with your ribs to the sides and your pelvic floor to expand and release. Exhale by allowing the air out of your lungs by relaxing at your ribs, abdomen and allowing your pelvic floor to gently lift. Perform every hour: Take 5 seconds for the inhale, pause for 1 second and take 5 seconds for the exhale, pause for 1 second and repeat 5 times.
9) Physical therapy can help
Through an effective and individualized treatment plan, the physical therapist will provide solutions to attain your optimal wellness and allow you to return to your normal activities without the stress or worry related to the restrictions of urinary incontinence and any associated pain.
We are safely offering in-home physical therapy and occupational therapy service via face-to-face appointments throughout the Greater Milwaukee area.
You can give us a phone call as your mobile, in-home physical therapy and occupational therapy provider in Waukesha. We provide our services physical therapy at home throughout the Greater Milwaukee area to help you get this problem solved.
If you are looking for specialized help with managing your urinary incontinence or bladder leakage and live in Waukesha, Brookfield, New Berlin, Pewaukee, Delafield, Hartland, Oconomowoc, Greenfield, Greendale, Franklin, Oak Creek, Whitefish Bay, or in surrounding Greater Milwaukee communities, give us a quick phone call to schedule your physical therapy appointment or complete this quick form to set up your FREE 20-minute call ($75 value) with an in-home PT to discuss your current situation!
Talk more soon!!
P.s. If you’re experiencing stiffness in your back which restricts your ability to move without pain or limiting your movement making house tasks more challenging, click here to download our free back pain tips guide which includes actionable tips I give to my patients at Prestige Therapy and Wellness, LLC. Click here to get your free copy: https://prestigetherapywellness.lpages.co/back-pain-freebie/