Incontinence, or involuntary leakage of the bladder, affects over 25 million Americans. Risk factors for developing incontinence can include a history of bladder or urethral trauma, multiple pregnancies or menopause in women, and a history of prostate cancer in men. Once your Blue Ridge Urological doctor identifies the root cause and type of your incontinence, you will be presented with a plan to manage your condition. Managing incontinence in men and women can often be achieved through dietary changes, bladder training, physical therapy, medication therapy, and nerve impulse stimulation.
Basic dietary changes can be a very effective method of dealing with an over-active bladder. Restricting fluid intake after dinner can reduce night time trips to the bathroom or nocturnal leakage. According to Dr. Gillock, “eliminating diuretics in your daily routine can significantly help.” Diuretics are liquids that actually tell your body to urinate more, drawing out the water that is already stored in your body. The most common diuretics are caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Depending on your normal diet, your BRU urologist may also recommend a reduction in spicy and acidic foods.
Bladder training is exactly what it sounds like. Putting yourself on a schedule will help your bladder relearn when it’s time to go and when it’s not. Tracking what time you are eating and drinking, and how much, will also help you and your bladder learn a routine to keep things on track and make the most of your time.
Physical therapy is a great option for men and women suffering from stress incontinence. Dr. Gillock also recommends exercising your Kegel muscles. Kegel muscles are the muscles that line the pelvic wall. When you are “holding it,” the muscles you are tightening are your Kegels. Among other exercises that your urologist may recommend, strengthening your Kegel muscles is the most common practice. Simply tense your muscle as you would if you were trying to hold your urine, keep it tense for about five seconds, and relax. Repeat this 10 times in an hour, three or four times a day, and your muscles will be toned and strong in no time.
Medication therapy is also very effective at managing incontinence. Sometimes the cause of the incontinence is beyond diet and exercise and must be handled on a chemical level. There is a variety of medication that can help your condition. Your urologist will determine which medication is best for you.
Nerve impulse stimulation is a last resort for incontinence management. This method involves the surgical implantation of four wires and a small nerve stimulator that work to override the nerve that controls the bladder. The stimulator blocks out the nerve’s natural impulse and assumes its role, telling the bladder when it is and is not time to urinate. While it is very effective at resolving incontinence, this option is used in less than 5% of our patient population because of the strict criteria that must be met before a patient is a candidate.
Surgical techniques exist for different forms of male and female urinary incontinence. Many of the procedures are outpatient and involve a rapid recovery. Your doctor can help to determine if surgery is an option for you.
For more information about incontinence, or any of the management options discussed here, please contact the Blue Ridge Urological offices conveniently located in the Staunton area. We would be happy to answer your questions, address your concerns, and get you back to a happier quality of life today.