Time to challenge the taboo

Posted on: 09 November 2016 by 50connect editorial

Bladder problems are increasingly common in the UK, yet are hardly spoken about – it's time to challenge the taboo with these top tips for improving control.

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It’s estimated that around 14 million people in the UK today suffer from some form of bladder condition but despite this problem being so common there is still a great deal of hush around the subject due to embarrassment. 

Bladder problems are more common in women than men because they experience childbirth and menopause, in which the oestrogen that keep the ligaments of the pelvic floors elastic and strong, deplete.

There are a number lifestyle changes and exercises you can do to help look after your bladder.   

Watch what you eat

Some foods have been known to worsen bladder symptoms. Acidic foods, such as tomatoes and orange juice, may be linked to flare-ups. Keep a diary of your symptoms and see if you can connect them to any foods or liquids. If so, steer clear of these foods and see if you notice any improvement.

Watch your weight

Loosing weight can help eliminate symptoms of an overactive bladder – excess weight puts pressure on the bladder and obesity decreases blood flow and nerve activity causing control problems. 

Don’t stop mid flow

Women are more prone to urinary tract infections due to not emptying their bladder, so try not to tighten your muscles to stop urinating too soon, the urine that didn't quite escape will head back to your bladder and can bring bacteria into your system leading to infections.

Glass of water

Drink plenty of fluids

Drink plenty of fluids it is recommended you drink around six to eight glasses a day. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks of all types hot and cold as they only increase your need to urinate.

Drink at the right times

If you have urinary incontinence and are getting up in the middle of the night you need to stop drinking fluids two hours before you go to bed – similarly, refrain from drinking tea of coffee before you commute.

Mind your posture

Becky Aston a Specialist Women’s Health physiotherapist, advises; “It’s also really important to look at the whole body.  Although there is often a weakness in the pelvic floor muscles themselves, if your posture is not correct and your body is not coordinating all the correct muscle activity at the right time – a bit like an orchestra – then something has to give and it’s often the pelvic system.” 

Try double voiding and delayed voiding

If you have trouble emptying your bladder completely just sit and wait a few seconds then try again to pass urine. Delayed voiding is another technique – follow a daily schedule of going to the bathroom. Instead of going when you feel the urge, go at set times during the day. Depending on how often you go to the bathroom now, your health care provider may ask you to urinate every 2 to 4 hours, whether you feel you have to go or not.

Active mature women

Train your pelvic floors

Pelvic floor muscle training is the leading treatment for stress incontinence but despite this advice when women are taught how to do pelvic floor exercise verbally, 50% simply won’t contract them correctly. The best way to do this is to see a women’s health Physiotherapist, who will examine your pelvic floor muscles to make sure you are doing the right thing and give you an individual exercise programme. 

Technology can help

Believe it or not, technology can assist with bladder problems and there are a number of devices out there to help train pelvic floor muscles to prevent conditions such as incontinence. Pericoach and Elvie are pelvic floor training devices. Equipped with a smartphone app, they measure the direct force of the muscles and act as your very own personal trainer, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and preventing leaks.

The most important thing is to know that there is help at hand for whatever type of bladder problem you may have and there are specialist healthcare professionals out there that can offer advice and help. 

For more information and advice visit the Bladder and Bowel Foundation.

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