Top 5 Tips For Combatting Bladder Urgency and Frequency
Do you suffer from bladder urgency, frequency, or leakage? Many women in our society today do and have for a long time. Many chalk it up to “I am getting older.” “ I drink a lot throughout the day it is only natural I will pee more.” This does not have to be the case. Here are the top 5 things that you can start working on now to decrease your bathroom time!
1. Start with doing a bladder diary. This is a great way to see what your habits are like and a great way to track your progress. You will be keeping track of your food and fluid intake, when and how much you are urinating throughout the day and night, as well as activities that contribute to leakage such as cough/sneeze, standing from sitting, or a strong urge. (Click here for a form that can help you with this. )
2. Drink enough of the RIGHT kind of fluids throughout the day. Depending on your body type and size you should be drinking 6-8 8oz glasses of water per day. If your urine is dark in color or foul smelling you most likely are not drinking enough. This can irritate the bladder making you feel like you need to urinate more frequently. Also, alot of people start to limit their fluid when they have bladder issues. This can make the problem worse, because it further concentrates the urine leading to increased irritation and therefore more frequent urination.
3. ALL FLUIDS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. It needs to be the right type of fluid to be beneficial. In my daily practice I hear all the time “I drink plenty of fluids, “ but when we delve into it a little more the fluids that are being consumed are what we call “bladder irritants.” The properties in these bladder irritants can cause increased bladder frequency and urgency because the bladder lining is aggravated. Some examples include: Coffee (regular and decaf), teas (regular and decaf), and acidic juices such as orange and grapefruit. There are more on the list, but even if you start with decreasing or eliminating these and increasing water you may start to see a difference!
4. Stop going to the bathroom JUST IN CASE!! A normal bladder typically empties 6-8 times in a 24 hours period with the voiding interval around 3-4 hours. Granted as we age, our bladder capacity does decrease, but using the restroom every 30 minutes to 1 hour is not normal! When we go to the bathroom because it is convenient…before leaving the house, or leaving the physician office etc., you are interrupting the normal bladder rhythm of emptying and filling. If you are using the bathroom when you do not have the urge, then you are emptying before the bladder is reaching its normal capacity. Over time this can lead to increased urgency and frequency because the bladder has now learned to give you a signal too early.
5. Knowing how to properly contract and relax your pelvic floor muscle is also very important to improve bladder habits. Many people have been told to do Kegels, but many people do them incorrectly which either does nothing or makes things worse.
These are some easy ways to get started with improving your bladder habits, but if you feel like you need guidance on how to do a proper Kegel, or just need more help in general to get on the right track, it would be a good idea to see a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist. We can come up with an individualized program that meets all your needs and allows you to better reach your goals. We have several location in Delaware and Maryland so finding a place close to you will be easy. (Click here to find out how to set up a free consultation or initial evaluation.)
Keep in mind–Bladder leakage, urgency, or frequency are not normal and you do not need to live with it anymore!!
Kelly Fortner DPT is a pelvic floor specialist at our Millsboro and Seaford Delaware office.