How to Treat Bladder Problems

Embarrassed About Bladder Problems?

No one likes to talk about it, but incontinence is common. Here’s what you can do to minimize accidents and how your doctor can help.

incontinenceTake Charge

Don’t let fear of bladder accidents keep you from an active life filled with work, friends, and family. Incontinence isn’t a normal part of aging, or something you just have to live with. There are plenty of things you can do. The sooner you call your doctor, the faster you can get treated.

First Steps

It’s not easy to talk about incontinence. That’s why women wait, on average, 6 years before they get help. Take the first step and call your doctor. He might refer you to a specialist who treats urinary conditions. At your first visit, ask if your diet, health problems, or medicine could be causing the problem.

What Type of Incontinence Is It?

Before your doctor can treat it, he needs to know what kind it is. If you release urine when you cough, laugh, or sneeze, that’s likely stress incontinence. If you have a sudden need to go before leakage happens, that’s probably urge incontinence. Some people have a combination of the two.

Your Doctor Visit: What to Expect

He’ll examine you and ask about your health, symptoms, medicines you take, and the type of accidents you have. He might suggest you keep a diary to record every time you go to the bathroom or have wetness.

Tests to Diagnose Incontinence

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and rule out any other medical conditions. He may order tests to check for infections or other problems, as well as a bladder stress test.

Kegel Exercises

Squeezing muscles you already use several times a day can help prevent leaks. Kegel exercises work the ones in your pelvis that you use to start and stop the flow of pee. 

To do a Kegel, squeeze and hold for about 10 seconds. Then release. Do about 10 sets three to five times a day. It may take up to 3 months before you notice a change.

Retrain Your Bladder

Want more control? Schedule your bathroom visits at regular intervals — for instance, every 2 hours. If you have to go before the time is up, use Kegels or relaxation techniques to hold it in until the urge passes. After a while, you’ll train yourself to go less often, with longer and longer periods between restroom breaks.

Medicine

Drugs can treat urges related to overactive bladder. Some control its contractions, others keep it relaxed. Side effects may include dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision.

Other Treatments

Women can insert a pessary device into the vagina that helps control leakage.

Another option: Doctors can inject collagen and other bulking substances to thicken tissues around the bladder neck and narrow the opening.

You could also consider getting sling or suspension surgery, which lifts the urethra and bladder neck back into place. For urge incontinence, painless nerve stimulation can stop your body from telling you your bladder is full.

Pick Your Protection

You can buy products designed for bladder protection in stores and online. You’ll find disposable and reusable versions. Some are specially fitted for men or women.

For light to moderate wetness, a liner or pad that attaches to your underwear may be all you need. Fitted briefs or protective underwear can handle more liquid.

Get Back Out Into the World

A few routine changes can help prevent leaks and get you back to your favorite activities. Don’t stop drinking fluids — you’ll get dehydrated. Limit each drink to 6 to 8 ounces, and don’t have them within 2 to 4 hours of bedtime.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, which increase the urge to go. If you’re overweight, drop a few pounds to ease pressure on your bladder. And don’t smoke. It’s bad for your bladder, too.

Treatment for Men

Men can become incontinent after an illness or injury, or when an enlarged prostate gland  blocks the regular flow of urine from the bladder. Like women, men can often get relief with bladder retraining, lifestyle changes, and Kegels.

Medications can help relax or shrink the prostate if that’s the problem. Your doctor may also suggest surgery, like artificial sphincters or male slings, which support the urethra and keep it closed when necessary.

© 2015 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Best Carbs for You

Gallery

Your Guide to Eating Healthy Carbs Make the Right Choice Think of carbs as raw material that powers your body. You need them to make sugar for energy. They come in two types: simple and complex. What’s the difference? Simple … Continue reading

Top Triggers for a Leaky Bladder

Gallery

Foods and Drinks That Make You Gotta Go Alcoholic Beverages Beer, wine, liquor — alcohol in any form makes you need to pee more. It also interferes with brain signals to the bladder about when to go. So if you … Continue reading

When Someone You Love Has Diabetes

Gallery

You can do a lot to support your friend or relative as they manage their diabetes. Encourage them. It’s hard to have a serious medical condition. You’ll also want to learn the symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and high … Continue reading

Cholesterol Shockers

Foods Labeled ‘Low Cholesterol’

Chicken Dish with BroccoliWhen you’re shopping and you see an item that says it’s low in cholesterol, you still need to check the nutrition label. If it’s high in saturated fat, it can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Also check the serving size. It might be smaller than you think, and if you eat too much, you’ll get more cholesterol than you realized.

Coffee

Your morning cup of joe just might give your cholesterol level an unwanted jolt. French press or Turkish coffee lets through cafestol, which raises levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. Espresso does too, but serving sizes are small, so there’s less to worry about.  If you drink drip coffee, you’re in the clear. The filter catches cafestol, so stick to drip.

Thai Takeout

Thai food is spicy and delicious, but it can raise your cholesterol if you don’t choose carefully. The secret ingredient? Coconut milk. It makes curries smooth, and it’s high in saturated fat. Scan the menu instead for stir fries or noodle dishes, and ask to have your dinner steamed or made with vegetable oil. Choose chicken rather than beef, throw in some extra veggies, and enjoy your takeout guilt-free.

Granola

Do you hear “granola” and think “health food”?  That chewy, crunchy goodness often comes with a hefty serving of saturated fat. Even brands of “low-fat” granola can be higher in saturated fat than some other kinds of cereal. A whole-grain cereal topped with fresh fruit may be a better choice.

Shrimp

You’ve probably heard seafood is a good choice when you’re watching cholesterol. That’s true, but shrimp is an exception. One serving, even if you cook it without fat, has about 190 milligrams of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day, or 200 milligrams per day if you have heart disease or high cholesterol. Try the scallops instead. They have less than a quarter of the cholesterol of shrimp.

Flour Tortillas

To build a better taco, you have to start with the foundation. Flour tortillas — even the whole wheat ones — may sound like the best choice, but they’re not. They’re higher in saturated fat than corn tortillas. (Assuming you don’t fry your corn tortillas in oil, of course.) Start with a corn tortilla (check the label to make sure it wasn’t made with lard) and add those healthy toppings: grilled chicken, juicy tomatoes, and chopped lettuce.

Organ meats

“Nose to tail” eating may be trendy in the restaurant world, but it could leave your cholesterol trending up. Organ meats such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads are higher in cholesterol than other cuts of meat. Beef liver is high in iron, though there are other foods that aren’t organs that give you iron. Enjoying a 3-ounce portion once a month is OK. 

Stick Margarine

Butter vs. margarine can be a tricky choice. Both have saturated fats and should be used sparingly. But here’s the easy part: If you’re using margarine, choose soft tub margarine rather than the stick variety. Tub varieties are lower in fats and are better for your LDL or “bad” cholesterol level. Read the nutrition label, and look for one low in saturated fats and with no trans fat.

Pasta

The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol, right? And it is, as long as you make the right choices. Think marinara or marsala, not meatballs, and linguine with clams, not lasagna. As long as you steer clear of sauces with butter or cream bases and avoid pastas stuffed with meat or cheeses, pasta can be a healthy part of your diet. Just don’t eat too much.

Energy Bars

They’re marketed for people who work out, so energy bars have to be a good choice, right? Maybe. Check the nutrition label. You might be surprised at the amount of saturated fat in some. Look out for those with tropical oils like palm oil and palm kernel oil, which add saturated fat.

Ghee

Indian food can be a fine choice, but only if you hold the ghee. What is ghee? It’s clarified butter — and that means saturated fats and cholesterol. How much? One tablespoon of ghee has 33 milligrams of cholesterol, about 11% of the recommended daily amount.  It’s a staple of Indian cooking, so if you’re eating out, ask your server how much ghee is in your dish, and if you’re cooking, check the recipe to make sure it fits your diet.

Duck

If chicken and turkey are good low-cholesterol choices, duck should be too, right? Not so. Duck and goose are both higher in cholesterol than chicken and turkey. One cup of cooked duck or goose — even with the skin removed — has about 128 milligrams of cholesterol. The same portion of chicken has only 113 milligrams of cholesterol, and turkey is an even better choice at 93 milligrams.

Some Dairy Products

How many times did Mom tell you to finish your milk because it was good for you? She’s right: Dairy helps you get the calcium and vitamin D you need. Just look for fat-free and low-fat versions, which deliver the nutrients without the same amount of cholesterol. You can also switch yogurt for sour cream in recipes to further cut the saturated fat and cholesterol.

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.