Living With Urinary Urge Incontinence: Strategies to Calm and Retrain Your Bladder (part 2)
August 24, 2023
Other effective strategies for managing bladder urgency
In addition to bladder retraining techniques, there are other things you can do to manage bladder urgency symptoms. At our Bethesda and McLean physical therapy clinics, we’ve helped hundreds of men and women find relief by using these simple strategies!
This might seem a bit counterintuitive. How could drinking more water improve urge incontinence?
It turns out that dehydration makes urine more concentrated, which may actually irritate your bladder and contribute to bladder contractions, urinary frequency, and leakage. So, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water—one rule of thumb is about half your body weight in fluid ounces per day, but you might need more depending on factors like your activity level, diet, and climate. Bonus tip: avoid drinking within two to three hours of bedtime to reduce those nightly bathroom trips.
An easy way to tell if you’re drinking enough water is to look at the color of your urine: it should be a pale straw color. And according to the APTA, normal urination happens about 4 to 7 times per day, for about 8 to 10 seconds per release.
Get your fiber!
You might already know that eating a lot of fiber—found in foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables—can help prevent and improve bowel constipation. But a fiber-rich diet might also help alleviate urinary urge incontinence, too, since being constipated can contribute to the sudden urge to pee. Most adults need around 25 to 40 grams of fiber per day.
When you do go, go better.
Don’t strain or push. Avoid doing anything on the toilet that increases pressure on the pelvic floor, such as holding your breath or blowing your nose. To help your pelvic floor muscles relax appropriately, be sure to sit down on the toilet completely instead of hovering over the bowl—yes, even while using a public toilet, if possible! (Personally, I simply cover the toilet seat with the paper provided or even toilet paper.)
Avoid or eliminate foods and beverages known to irritate the bladder.
This includes alcohol, anything containing caffeine (including chocolate, tea, and coffee), artificial sweeteners, and acidic or spicy foods. There may be other foods and beverages that irritate your bladder, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your diet and observe how your symptoms change.
Consult with a pelvic floor physical therapist.
This is an important one! Doing pelvic floor exercises by yourself might not be the best way to improve your symptoms if the exercises you select don’t address your specific needs.
For example, just doing strengthening exercises like kegels might not be enough on its own—and in fact may cause unexpected consequences—if your pelvic floor muscles also need help learning how to relax and fire correctly, rather than just getting stronger. A pelvic health PT can assess your unique pelvic floor function and provide you with a customized treatment plan with diverse interventions that will truly accelerate your healing and results.
Do you need help managing urinary urgency symptoms?
Contact ITR Physical Therapy in Bethesda, MD and McLean, VA to connect with a pelvic floor specialist near you and find relief from urinary urge incontinence.