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How To Stop Incontinence:
10 Ways To Prevent Leaks

Bladder leaks affect millions of Australians - as many as 1 in 4 adults has some difficulty with maintaining control of their bladder at times.

For many people their leaky bladder impacts their social connection - choosing to avoid meeting their friends for a coffee or playing with the grandkids. A leaky bladder need not hold you back.

The following tips and tricks will help you manage it better:

1. Have A Bladder Diary

Each time that you have a urinary leak, note what you had eaten, and what you were doing. Use this information to identify a pattern.

This information will allow you to identify your triggers so you know what to avoid.

Your bladder diary will also help your doctor in your diagnosis.

2. Manage Your Fluid Intake

Most people should try to drink about 2 litres (8 cups) of fluids per day, preferably water, unless instructed otherwise by a medical professional.

Unfortunately the more you drink the higher the likelihood of leakage, yet if you restrict your fluid intake it could cause medical problems including constipation, which, ironically, can also cause incontinence.

This is clearly a conundrum, however the best solution to this is to manage your fluid intake throughout the day. Make sure you drink enough and drink regularly throughout the day. Try to sip small amounts rather than drinking large amounts at once. And of course water is best - consider quitting alcohol as you can count on leakage if you decide to indulge.

3. Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine is a diuretic. Caffeine irritates the bladder and stimulates urine production. Nonetheless, this does not mean just avoiding coffee as numerous other foods contain caffeine as well.

4. Use Leak-Proof Underwear

To protect your clothing from unwanted leaks use absorbent continence management products (pads, adult pull-ups, adult nappies). Even if you feel you've solved your bladder leakage, if you are at all anxious about leaving the house then use a product as an insurance policy against the unexpected and eliminate any further anxiety.

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5. Do Pelvic Floor Exercises

Also known as Kegels, these are movements designed to help strengthen your urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles. In fact, Kegel exercise has been known to cure urinary incontinence.

A physical therapist will help you learn what they are in addition to showing you how to execute them correctly.

Nonetheless, just as with any other exercise routine, it is the frequency at which you do these exercises that will determine their effectiveness.

Therefore, work with your therapist or doctor to help you establish a routine and ensure that you stick to it.

6. Practice Good Toilet Habits

Nurturing the following habits will help stop bladder leaks:

  • Only use the toilet when you have a full bladder

Avoid making a habit of urinating every time you feel something in your bladder. Doing this teaches your bladder that it should go even when it is not full.

  • Don't rush it

A mistake that a lot of people make in the toilet is using their pelvic floor to force out the urine. This reduces the effectiveness of your sphincter muscles. Instead, take your time and let the urine flow at its own rate.

  • Don't hold in a bowel motion

Whenever you feel the urge, go to the toilet immediately as holding it in can lead to constipation. Also, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time.

  • Don't force it

When you are having problems with your bowel motions, do not strain to open them. This will weaken your pelvic floor muscles.

  • Maintain correct posture

When passing a bowel motion, the correct posture will make the movement a lot easier. Consider having a footstool in your toilet where you can place your feet. Next, put your elbows on your knees, push out your belly, and straighten your back.

  • Utilise laxatives

These will ease the tension in your pelvic floor muscles so you can have easier bowel motions. However, laxatives should only be a short-term solution.

  • Eat healthy

A healthy diet should allow your faeces to be soft - so make sure your diet contains good amounts of fibre and drink the right amount of fluids.

With frequent practice, these habits will become second nature to you.

7. Lose Weight

Carrying around excess weight weakens your pelvic floor muscles thus contributing to incontinence. The fatty tissue usually applies a lot of pressure on your bladder.

Therefore, by losing the excess weight, you should see the symptoms improve. Nonetheless, in your weight loss routine, minimise lifting exercises as these will put a strain on your pelvic floor muscles - and when you do lift, cough or sneeze be sure to pull-up your pelvic floor muscles as you are about to start.

8. Practice Yoga

Yoga strengthens core muscles which has been shown to reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence. This is because a stronger core allows some people with the condition to gain better control of their urination.

9. Try and Remain Calm

It will happen. You will suddenly feel the urge, and you will be afraid that you might make a mess. Panicking will not help. Instead, take deep breathes to calm yourself down. Doing this will help reduce the urge.

10. Outsmart the Urge

If calming down does not work, clench your buttocks.

Clench them as tight as you can and hold the tension for a couple of seconds. Do this several times until you feel the urge start to disappear. When it passes, walk slowly to the closest toilet and relieve yourself.

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