Fall 2020 Newsletter

Posted On: September 24, 2020 by Vertis Therapy

Incontinence? You Are Not Alone

Amy Owens, PT

Incontinence is a topic people shy away from – either thinking about it or talking about it. But why are we so shy when an estimated 25 million Americans have bladder leakage every day? Urinary incontinence affects both men and women, although about twice as many women as men are affected.  Incontinence can be as little as “I dribble when I sneeze”, to a total loss of bladder control. Many types of incontinence can be reduced and controlled – some fairly easily and some with effort.
Urinary incontinence can sometimes be temporary. This type of incontinence tends to come and go, so many people tend to disregard or downplay the problem. Sometimes this condition can be related specifically to chemicals in certain foods or drinks that irritate the bladder. This irritation will cause more frequent urination, or more urgent urination resulting in not making it to the bathroom on time.  Figuring out what your triggers are can reduce or eliminate this type of incontinence. At other times, incontinence can be caused by an infection and needs to be addressed medically. Talk to a medical professional about your problems.
Often, incontinence is persistent. Persistent incontinence has multiple causes, and therefore various treatments. Keep in mind, the bladder is a muscle, and the opening at the bottom of the bladder is controlled by a muscle. These muscles, just like any other in the body, respond to training and strengthening. Knowing how to activate and train these muscles requires a fair amount of education and can be a bit tricky to figure out. Seeking help in learning these exercises is a good idea.

Occupational and physical therapists are specialists in exercise. These professionals can help you learn effective exercises, they can help you increase strength and endurance of these muscles, and they can teach you what exercises to do on your own. Therapists can help you figure out simple diet changes that may help reduce incontinence or help you figure out timing and routines to get to the bathroom.  
Keep in mind; incontinence is not just “a normal part of aging.” Incontinence can lead to skin irritation, infections, changes in social life, and changes in sleep habits – none of which are a good thing.  Addressing and treating incontinence does not need to be embarrassing – it is often just speaking with someone who knows the right questions to ask and can teach you how to handle your specific situation. 
Speak to your medical professional or therapist about doing something about your incontinence – and remember – whether man or woman - you are not alone! 


5 Common Things That Can Make Incontinence Worse

Amy Owens, PT

  1. Watch your Weight.  Being overweight puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor. This happens from the extra pressure of increased belly weight, and also from the stomach muscles being stretched which makes them weaker. “Potbelly” posture also puts extra pressure on the bladder with the forward tip of the pelvis. 
  2. Do pelvic floor exercises. Weak pelvic floor muscles make it harder to control the start and stop of urine flow. “Use it or lose it” applies directly – if we are not using the pelvic muscles, they get weak and out of shape and can no longer do the job of controlling flow or supporting the bladder. 
  3. Watch what you eat. Certain food and drinks irritate the bladder making the urge to urinate stronger and more frequent. Common irritants include caffeine, alcohol, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. 
  4. Eat more fiber. Constipation can increase incontinence. The colon is directly next to the bladder.  Therefore, when the colon is full, it puts pressure on the bladder and can cause or increase incontinence. 
  5. Quit smoking. Smoking can lead to intermittent or chronic coughing. Coughing puts enormous pressure on the pelvic floor muscles causing damage and weakness.