Five Habits to Treat Urinary Incontinence

Dietary changes and some exercises can help treat urinary incontinence. While it's necessary to resort to other treatments, these simple habits to treat urinary incontinence may prove helpful. Discover them here!
Five Habits to Treat Urinary Incontinence

Last update: 09 June, 2021

Urinary incontinence is a condition characterized by the loss of bladder control. It can be mild, characterized by minor urine leaks, or serious, when the bladder completely empties itself.

Although treatment may vary depending on the underlying cause, some basic habits can help control it. In this article, we share five you should take note of.

Five Habits to Treat Urinary Incontinence

Loss of bladder control can be caused by many health problems. In fact, urinary incontinence isn’t a disease in an of itself but a symptom instead. Urine leaks are sudden and can occur while you’re coughing, sneezing, or straining yourself.

Some patients even develop a severe form that makes them unable to reach the toilet in time after experiencing a strong urge to urinate. Regardless of the cause or severity, everyone can try applying some simple habits to treat urinary incontinence. Discover them below!

1. Make Dietary Changes

A bowl of chopped chili.
Consuming certain spicy or sugary foods leads to increased urination.

One key to treating urinary incontinence is improving your diet. While many ignore this important aspect, some irritating foods can negatively affect this condition.

In fact, the Mayo Clinic suggests minimizing or eliminating intake of certain foods, such as the following:

  • Alcohol.
  • Chocolate.
  • Acidic fruits.
  • Spicy food.
  • Coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • Fizzy drinks.
  • Tomato-based products.

2. Retrain Your Bladder to Treat Urinary Incontinence

Bladder retraining involves simple techniques to strengthen the muscles that play a role in urination. Its goal is to help set certain times for bladder emptying. Thus, the first technique is to set fixed times for going to the bathroom.

Ideally, you should hold the urge to urinate as much as possible, until your body gets used to emptying the bladder on schedule. Of course, it’s important to do so gradually. Start by going every hour, then every two hours, until you can spend four hours without going to the bathroom.

Another simple technique helps strengthen the ability to hold back urine. It consists of not going to the bathroom immediately after feeling an urgent need to urinate. Start by delaying it five minutes, then 10 minutes, and so on until you feel more in control of your bladder.

3. Pelvic Floor Exercises to Treat Urinary Incontinence

A woman doing Kegel exercises to treat urinary incontinence.
Kegel exercises are known for their effects on urinary incontinence since they strengthen the pelvic floor.

Pelvic floor exercises are the best complement to treat urinary incontinence. In fact, they’re usually the first treatment choice when someone is suffering from mild urine leaks. The best known are called Kegel exercises, which you can do every day at home.

In relation to this, a study published in the Global Journal of Health Science found that these exercises can be a way for women with urinary incontinence to improve their self-esteem and quality of life.

What to Do

  • To begin, tighten and relax your pelvic floor muscles for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, rest for the same amount of time. The pelvic floor muscles are the same ones you use to stop urine flow midstream. If you’re not sure how to do it, try stopping the flow of urine when you’re in the bathroom.
  • Other exercises such as a bridge or elevated pelvis can help. However, you must focus on contracting the correct muscles.

4. Avoid Tobacco Use

Tobacco use may compromise the bladder’s nerve function. Due to its high content of toxic components, smoking can weaken pelvic floor muscles. Specifically, according to a study published in Science Direct, the effect of nicotine can generate excessive contractions in the bladder, resulting in a sudden increase in the need to urinate.

On the other hand, you should also remember that smoking can lead to chronic cough, which also affects urine leakage. When you cough, the abdominal pressure on the pelvic floor increases, resulting in the bladder and urethra sinking.

5. Avoid Alcoholic Beverages to Treat Urinary Incontinence

A woman's hand refusing an alcoholic drink.
Alcoholic beverages have a negative effect on urination, weakening the walls of the urinary tract.

Excessive alcohol consumption is related to the weakening and irritation of the bladder, ureter, and kidney walls. Therefore, you should avoid alcoholic beverages if you want to treat your urinary incontinence.

Alcohol overstimulates the bladder and diminishes its ability to hold back urine. Moreover, since it’s dehydrating, it increases the risk of urinary tract infections. What to do about it? Avoid it altogether if you’re suffering from symptoms of incontinence! Instead, drink more water.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Finally, it’s important to remember that, although these tips can help treat incontinence, it’s important to see a doctor if you have symptoms of this condition. The sooner you get a diagnosis and begin treatment, the better the prognosis.

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