Not so funny when it's true. The myth is that incontinence is a natural part of aging and the solution is the right pad or pill. We know that we need to exercise to stay fit. The same is true of our pelvic muscles. They play a vital role in maintaining urinary and fecal continency throughout our lifetime. Also important is what we put in our mouths and how that effects the bladder as well as toileting habits. (see the colorectal page on this site for more information on fecal incontinence)
The goal of pelvic muscle training is to isolate and strengthen the pelvic floor muscle, specifically the muscles of thelevator ani. Research shows us that strengthening these muscles decreases urine leakage in women and men with stress incontinence and with overactive bladder symptoms of urinary urgency and frequency.
The muscles do this by strengthening the urethral sphincter, improving voluntary control and inhibiting the muscle around the bladder (the detrusor muscle) that is involved in urgency. Dr. Kegel was the pioneer in this area and it has been brought to a new level with the computer age, utilizing biofeedback, pressure manometry and electrical stimulation.
Diet & your bladder function:
The lining of the bladder is sensitive to what goes into it. The muscle on the outside of the bladder (the detrusor) reacts to the irritation of the bladder lining by contracting and giving you the urge to urinate. Being aware of what bladder irritants are in your diet may be the first step in regaining control. The most common irritants are smoking, carbonation, caffeination and alcohol. Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits may also irritate the bladder.
Some medications may also play a role in bladder symptoms. Common culprits are antihistamines and diuretics. Your physician and pharmacist are great resources for determining what medications you are taking and their effects. As with all medications changes consult your physician prior to any changes with prescription medcation.
Bladder Urgency & Frequency
We have all become familiar with "Gotta go, gotta go" from the commercials for medications to calm the bladder. The first step in controlling the "gotta go" sensation is to take a look at your diet and your bladder habits. The following information sheets and logs will help you get started.