When friends get together and talk turns to their medical issues, you can
bet there’s one issue they’ll ignore: bladder control problems.
As many as 33 million people may have bladder control problems. A good
number of them may avoid the problem so much that they don't seek help.
“It causes a great deal of embarrassment,” says Sandip Vasavada, MD,
urologic director at the Center for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive
Surgery at Cleveland Clinic.
The condition also affects quality of life. An overactive bladder
and bladder control problems that accompany it cause loss of sleep, decreased
sexual activity, depression, anxiety, and a fear
of social activities.
“People are afraid to take trips, are afraid to stand in line at the grocery
store,” says Janis Luft, clinical research coordinator and the designer and
director of the pelvic floor rehabilitation and behavioral treatment program
for incontinence at the
University of California at San Francisco Medical Center. “What I hear very
commonly is ‘I know where every bathroom in the city is.’”
But if you have an overactive bladder - defined as an urge to urinate eight
or more times during the day and more than once during the night - there are
steps you can take to help with bladder control problems. Here's what experts
This is one diary that won’t be like Bridget Jones’, but it will begin to
help you see your most vulnerable times of day and also identify the extent of
your problem, Vasavada tells WebMD. Write down what you eat and drink, and
when. Then note when you begin to feel the urge to go to the bathroom. It’s
also important to identify how much of your frequent urination is occurring at
night, Vasavada says. This information can provide clues to your doctor.
2. Watch your water.
After you’ve kept your diary and identified patterns, you can work with your
doctor on a fluid balance program that will work for you. Although we are told
to drink eight glasses of water a day, that may be too much for some people
with bladder control problems, Vasavada says.
You’ll also want to make sure, however, that you don’t under-hydrate, a
“home remedy” for someone who hasn’t actually been treated for overactive
bladder and who assumes that less is better. Dehydration
can lead to its own set of issues, some of which can be quite serious.
3. Cut the caffeine, alcohol, and maybe spicy foods.
If drinks containing caffeine
aggravate your overactive bladder, try to limit them. The same holds true for
alcohol. Although the research on spicy foods isn’t clear, some patients with
overactive bladder have found that limiting spicy foods, such as curry, can