With social distancing and home isolation becoming the new normal while our communities fight the COVID-19 virus, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and neglect good bladder and bowel habits. In reality, it’s more important than ever to maintain general health and wellbeing to support our immune systems.
While in Isolation
While in Isolation
Looking after your bladder & bowel while in isolation
Unless otherwise instructed by your Doctor it’s important you stay hydrated. A good fluid intake will keep your urine well diluted, encourage your bladder to store good volumes of urine and keep your bowels regular by reducing the likelihood of constipation and straining
The best fluid to drink is water. General advice is to aim for about 2 litres of water, or 8 normal size glasses, per day. If you find water boring, you can use fruits to improve the flavour and many find drinking it chilled makes a world of difference.
If you want to add in other drinks make sure to avoid too much caffeine, alcohol, soft drinks and juice, as these can have a stimulating effect on the bladder and bowel. Remember that caffeine is not just found in tea and coffee but also many herbal teas, colas and chocolate products.
Take advantage of this time at home to review your diet and experiment with healthy meal preparation. Nutritionists generally recommend that a healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains, with minimal processed food and sugary drinks. A balanced diet can help minimise weight gain during extended periods of inactivity, which in turn can help with bladder and bowl health, and an increased BMI is a contributing factor to incontinence. Ensure you include plenty of fresh produce and bulking whole grains which add fibre to your diet, essential for encouraging good bowel habits.
Get Some Exercise
It’s easy to find yourself moving a lot less now gyms are shut and leaving the house is discouraged, but basic activity is important not only for maintaining weight and reducing stress but for healthy bladder and bowel movements. In fact, prolonged sitting can increase constipation while both lack of exercise and weight gain can lead to a weakened pelvic floor. Even with the current restrictions, there are lots of simple exercises that can be done at home.
Gentle squats can be done while steadying yourself on a chair or the kitchen bench top. Household items can be used as light weights.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercise can be practiced standing up, sitting down or even lying on the floor. Slowly pull up the muscles around your vagina or anus as if you are trying to stop yourself passing your urine, a bowel movement or wind. Squeeze and hold for about 5 seconds and then slowly release the muscles again. Relax and repeat about 5 times and do these at least 3 times a day. Having a strong pelvic floor is a great tool for holding onto your bladder when you cough or sneeze.
Practice Good Personal Hygiene
Practising good personal hygiene is a crucial first line of defence against the COVID-19 virus and also extremely important for general health. Good hand washing with soap and water is ideal, but hand sanitiser and wipes may also assist.
It is important to change your incontinence pads regularly and dispose of them correctly. To maintain your personal hygiene, you should also wash your genital area. Always finish both steps by washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. If you are using washable incontinence products they should be soaked in a sanitiser, washed and dried before reuse.
As we all adjust to this new way of life it’s important to review our habits and find ways to minimise the impact on both our physical and mental health. By using these steps and the advice of the Australian Government you can stay on top of your health.
You can also help minimise your exposure by taking advantage of home delivery services such as ConfidenceClub to ensure you have access to the essential supplies you need. And remember, if you feel unwell contact your doctor or healthcare professional.