You have a few leaks a day, but never lose control of your bladder? You have an active social life, but sometimes need to find a bathroom – and fast – in social situations? You love trying new foods, but you fear what effect they will have on your bladder?
If these descriptions sound like you, then you probably have light-to-moderate bladder weakness.
Having light-to-moderate bladder weakness presents a unique challenge: adaptation. Unlike with severe bladder weakness you can live your life as normal, making small accommodations for mild urges and occasional leaks.
But where and how do you make those accommodations? Read on for some solutions and advice for living with bladder weakness.
When at work or at home…
DO engage in daily exercise
Bladder weakness make normal aerobic exercise, like running, more difficult that normal. However, leaks and urges shouldn’t drive you to abandon exercise entirely: there are many activities – like yoga and swimming – that can help you stay active without putting strain on your bladder . Pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, also work to strengthen the pelvic floor and reduce urges over time.
DON’T forget to track your symptoms
Bladder weakness sometimes takes the backburner to a busy schedule. But as with any medical condition, monitoring helps you understand your symptoms, communicate with healthcare professionals, and choose products. Keep a voiding diary in your desk or purse, or try a bladder tracking app like Vesica or Bladder Pal.
DO choose bladder-friendly foods and drinks
Social occasions invite people to indulge in fizzy drinks, spicy snacks, and creamy desserts, all of which spell trouble for bladder weakness. Fizzy beverages and spicy food irritate the bladder, while dairy-laden treats contribute to constipation , . Meanwhile, caffeine and alcohol are also known bladder irritants . Stick to non-alcoholic, non-carbonated beverages, as well as these alternatives to coffee and these bladder-friendly foods.
DON’T forget to talk to your doctor
Many people who have bladder weakness feel embarrassed about talking about their condition with their doctor. However, mild-to-moderate bladder weakness may have an underlying cause, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), diabetes, or a kidney infection . Talking to a doctor will also help you develop the best plan for living with bladder weakness, from choosing products to selecting medications.
When traveling or out and about…
DO remember your medicine
If bladder weakness becomes too bothersome, doctors may prescribe medicine. Remember to take your prescription as-prescribed even with an irregular schedule: it will keep urges at-bay, put less leaks in your day, and make it easier to make the most of your leisure time. Set a reminder on your phone or watch to take your medicine, and always keep your medications in an easily-accessible place.
DON’T use female sanitary towels for bladder weakness
If you have ever run out of pads on a trip or a fun night out, you know how tempting it is to turn to female sanitary towels for protection against leaks. However, while sanitary towels are absorbent, they are designed to hold thicker liquid than urine. Sanitary towels also don’t neutralize acid like absorbent pads, which could lead to skin irritation . Bladder weakness products are engineered to absorb maximum amounts of liquid, as well as protect the skin. Remember to pack extras before your next outing!
C. S. McCauley, ed. “9 Tips for Exercising with Incontinence.” McLeod Health, n.d. Source: https://www.mcleodhealth.org/blog/9-tips-exercising-incontinence/
N. N. Maserejian, C. G. Wager, E. L. Giovannucci, T. M. Curto, K. T. McVary, & J. B. McKinlay. “Intake of Caffeinated, Carbonated, or Citrus Beverage Types and Development of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Men and Women.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 2013. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3676152/
“Can Your Diet Affect Your Bladder or Bowel Control?” National Association for Continence, n.d. Source: https://www.nafc.org/diet-habits
“Could Alcohol Consumption be Contributing to your Incontinence or Bedwetting Problem?” National Association for Continence, 2017. Source: https://www.nafc.org/bhealth-blog/could-alcohol-consumption-be-contributing-to-your-incontinence-or-bedwetting-problem
“Tips and Advice: Talking to Your Doctor.” National Incontinence, n.d. Source: https://nationalincontinence.com/pages/tips-talking-to-your-doctor
“Why You Shouldn’t Use a Maxi-Pad for Incontinence” National Association for Continence, 2016. Source: https://www.nafc.org/bhealth-blog/why-you-shouldnt-use-a-maxi-pad-for-incontinence