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8 Ways to Tame Bladder Control Problems

As many as 33 million people may have bladder control problems. Here's help.

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 help.

4. Retrain your bladder.

Specially trained nurses can help you learn techniques such as “prompted voiding,” or urinating at specified times of day rather than going just when you need to. This can sometimes retrain the bladder, Vasavada says.

5. Lose a little weight.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that overweight or obese women who lost, on average, 17 pounds had a 47% decrease in average weekly episodes of urinary incontinence. The reasons could vary, but one explanation could be that the extra weight adds pressure to the bladder.

6. Do your Kegels.

We all get sick of hearing about how exercise will cure our every ill. But in the case of overactive bladder, there’s every reason to believe that a few simple exercises can improve your bladder control problems. Kegels, the pelvic floor exercises in which you tighten the muscles in the bottom of your abdomen for 10 to 15 seconds, can really help control your overactive bladder. But you have to do about 100 a day, Vasavada says. The good news? You don’t have to do them all at once. Also, you can do them anywhere, any time.

If you’re having an immediate urge, Vasavada suggests an exercise called “quick flicks,” quick, repeated contractions of your rear end muscles to abolish bladder spasms.

Also, specially trained physical therapists can help you strengthen your entire pelvic floor, which may help with bladder control and decrease the spasms, Vasavada says. Ask your doctor if physical therapists are available in your area.

7. Take your medicine - and stick with it.

There are several medications that can help if all else fails, but you must stick with them, the experts say. The drugs don’t cause lasting improvements unless taken as directed, and studies indicate that compliance to overactive bladder drug therapy drops to about 18% after three months, Vasavada says.

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