Reducing Urinary Incontinence: Drink Water Wisely
Controlling your intake of liquids can be tricky. You might think that cutting back on liquids across the board would reduce OAB. In fact, it can make urine more concentrated, which can irritate the bladder. On the other hand, it's a good idea not to pressure the bladder by drinking too much liquid at once. Try these strategies:
- Drink plain water when you’re thirsty, from four to eight 8-ounce glasses a day. You’ll know you’re drinking enough if your urine is light yellow or almost colorless.
- Sip water throughout the day, instead of gulping down a lot at one time.
- Unless you’re exercising, don’t carry a large water bottle. It may tempt you to drink too much at once.
- If you’re waking up to urinate more than twice a night, drink most of your liquids during the waking hours. Limit how much you drink two to three hours before bedtime.
- If you take a diuretic, try taking it in the morning. That way, you should be able to empty your bladder by bedtime.
Strengthen Muscles and Retrain Your Overactive Bladder
It’s possible to retrain your bladder to hold more urine for longer periods of time. Better muscle control can also help. Ask your doctor for a specific plan and stick with it; it can take up to three months to see results. These strategies may be part of your plan:
- Keep a bladder control log. Record how much you drink, when you pee, and how much (average for you, less than average, or more than average). Each time you have an urge to pee, record how strong it is, on a scale of 1 to 10, and whether any urine leaks.
- Do Kegel exercises. Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that hold up the bladder. They also help reconnect nerve impulse communication between the bladder and the brain. To do them, lie on your bed or the floor and squeeze the pelvic muscles as if you were trying to pick up a marble with your vagina. Then pretend you're trying to suck the marble inside the vagina. Hold for a count of 10 seconds, relax for 10 seconds, repeating the pattern 10 times, three times a day.
The NIH recommends holding for 10 seconds, relaxing for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times, 3 times per day. (there is no exact formula, but this may give one more specific instructions)
- Resist the urge to urinate for five minutes. Whenever the urge to pee strikes, try to hold it for five minutes before going to the bathroom. Add on another five minutes the following week, and each week after that. The goal is to build up to urinating every three to four hours.
- Break the mind/ bladder association. If you have certain habits -- say, racing to the bathroom as soon as you get to work or walk in the door at home -- try changing your routine. The urge to pee may diminish in 30 to 60 seconds.