5 Tips To Improve Bladder Health And Prevent Incontinence
According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, bladder health is a critical aspect of overall well-being that is often overlooked until problems arise.
“Bladder issues, including incontinence, affect up to 50 million people globally, impacting their daily activities, self-esteem, and overall quality of life,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“However, with the right knowledge and proactive measures, many bladder problems can be managed or even prevented.”
Considering November is Bladder Health Month, Affinity Health explores the causes of bladder leakage and five tips to achieve optimal bladder function and enjoy an active, leakage-free life.
What Is Bladder Leakage?
Bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence, can be caused by various factors and underlying conditions. Some common causes include:
Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles: The muscles that support the bladder and control urine flow can weaken due to factors like ageing, childbirth, pregnancy, and obesity. Weak pelvic floor muscles may result in stress incontinence, where leakage occurs during activities like coughing, sneezing, or lifting.
Overactive Bladder Muscles: Some individuals may experience an overactive bladder, where the bladder muscles contract involuntarily, leading to an urgent need to urinate and, in some cases, leakage.
Neurological Conditions: Certain neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord injuries, can disrupt the signals between the brain and the bladder, causing urinary incontinence.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Infections in the urinary tract can irritate the bladder and lead to temporary incontinence.
Medications: Some medications, such as diuretics, sedatives, or muscle relaxants, can contribute to urinary incontinence as a side effect.
Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can weaken pelvic floor muscles and affect bladder control.
Chronic Medical Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, obesity, and chronic coughing can increase the risk of urinary incontinence.
Prostate Issues: In men, an enlarged prostate gland or prostate surgery can affect bladder control.
Bladder Obstructions: Bladder stones, tumours, or other obstructions in the urinary tract can lead to urinary incontinence.
Psychological Factors: Emotional stress, anxiety, or depression can exacerbate urinary incontinence in some individuals.
It’s important to note that the specific cause of bladder leakage may vary from person to person. Suppose you or someone you know is experiencing urinary incontinence. In that case, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider for a proper evaluation and diagnosis, as various treatment options are available to address this condition.
Tips To Improve Bladder Health
Consider the following tips to improve your bladder health:
Stay Hydrated, But Be Mindful of Your Fluid Intake
Proper hydration is essential for overall health, but the timing and types of fluids you consume can affect bladder health.
- Dehydration can irritate the bladder and contribute to urinary tract problems. Aim for about 8-10 cups of water per day.
- Be cautious with caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate the bladder and increase the frequency of urination.
- Minimise your fluid intake in the evening to reduce nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Diet plays a crucial role in bladder health. Spicy foods, acidic foods (like tomatoes and citrus fruits), and artificial sweeteners can irritate the bladder or contribute to incontinence. In contrast, foods high in antioxidants, such as berries, can promote a healthy urinary system. Ensure you eat a diet rich in fibre to prevent constipation, which can weaken pelvic floor muscles.
Exercise and Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Regular physical activity is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight and supporting overall bladder health. Consider integrating specific exercises, such as Kegel, core-strengthening, and cardiovascular workouts, into your routine to fortify the pelvic floor muscles and promote a healthy weight.
Practice Good Bathroom Habits
Simple changes in bathroom habits can make a significant difference in bladder health:
- Avoid holding in urine: Frequent urination is a natural way to prevent overstretching of the bladder.
- Use proper toilet posture: Sitting with your feet flat on the ground and slightly leaning forward can help empty the bladder.
- Go from front to back: Wipe from front to back after using the toilet to prevent the spread of bacteria from the anus to the urethra, reducing the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Seek Professional Guidance and Support
If you’re experiencing bladder issues or incontinence, don’t hesitate to seek help from healthcare professionals specialising in urology or pelvic health. In some cases, medications or medical procedures may be recommended to address underlying bladder issues or incontinence.
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.