How to Improve Bladder Health in Old Age

Three Methods:Making Lifestyle ChangesImproving Bladder Health MedicallyReducing Your Risk of Urinary Tract Infections

There may be few things that can be more embarrassing, especially among seniors, than to lose bladder control. Loss of bladder control is called incontinence, and is common among older people and is particularly common in older women . Causes of urinary incontinence can be anatomical (such as damage from child birth, or from neurological damage from stroke or dementia) or functional (such as an inability to move one's body to get to the bathroom). Other bladder problems include urinary tract infections (UTIs) and urinary retention. There are ways you can improve your bladder health as you age to combat these problems, but keep in mind bladder health is not an issue exclusive to the elderly — bladder issues can develop earlier in life as well.

Method 1
Making Lifestyle Changes

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    Perform Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are exercises that strengthen the muscles of the bladder that control urination. Both men and women can do Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.[1]
    • For women, start by identifying the muscles used in emptying your bladder by stopping the flow of your urine midstream. Once you identify those muscles, with an empty bladder, lie down, squeeze, and hold these muscles for a count of three. Relax for another count of three. Repeat this 10 times. Your goal is to do at least three sets of 10 cycles every day.
    • For men, start by identifying the muscles used in emptying your bladder by stopping the flow of your urine midstream. Once you identify those muscles, with an empty bladder, lie down with your knees bent and spread apart. Squeeze and hold these muscles for a count of three. Relax for another count of three. Repeat this 10 times. Your goal is to do at least three sets of 10 cycles every day.[2]
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    Try timed voiding. In timed voiding, you urinate on a set schedule. You empty your bladder on a schedule instead of only going to the bathroom when you feel you have to go. This helps you from overfilling your bladder and having urges you can't control due to incontinence. This helps you control your bladder and when you urinate.[3]
    • You usually start this by going to the bathroom every hour. Slowly, you can increase the time between trips to the bathroom.
    • You can also by watches specially designed to help you with timed voiding.
    • The idea is to re-train your bladder to hold more and more urine.
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    Avoid certain foods. Some foods may make your bladder problems worse. Certain foods may lead to increased incontinence. Try to reduce the amount of these foods to help.[4]
    • Spicy foods, such as spicy curries or foods that use hot peppers, are believed to cause bladder problems.
    • Some acidic foods can worsen bladder problems. This includes tomatoes, tomato sauces, and acidic fruit like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.[5]
    • Other foods that may cause bladder problems include coffee, tea, chocolate, and other foods with caffeine, along with artificial sweeteners.
    • This is most likely because components of these foods are excreted in the urine and can irritate the bladder.
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    Maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can help improve some forms of bladder incontinence. Being overweight can cause problems by placing pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.[6] If you are overweight, consider losing weight to help reduce your bladder problems.
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    Avoid constipation. Constipation can contribute to bladder problems. Since the bladder and colon are close together, having stool in the colon can place pressure on the bladder. This can either keep the bladder from filling like it should, not empty completely, or contract irregularly.[7]
    • Eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber each day to avoid constipation. That, along with drinking enough water, is enough for most people to prevent constipation.[8]
    • Occasionally, if you need to, consider senna or psyllium as a gentle laxative.

Method 2
Improving Bladder Health Medically

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    Visit your doctor. If you believe you had bladder problems, you should go see your doctor. Your doctor can help you decide on the proper treatment and offer you various medical options if you need them.
    • Symptoms of bladder trouble include urine leakage, sudden urges to urinate, involuntary leaking of urine, burning when you urinate, urine leakage when you cough or sneeze, or dark or strange smelling urine.[9]
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    Take medication. There are medications that can help control incontinence. These medications include:[10]
    • Anticholinergic medications. This is a class of drugs that can be used to calm an overactive bladder and reduce incontinence. Examples of these drugs are oxybutynin (Ditropan XL), tolterodine (Dettol), darifenacin (Enablex), fesoterodine (Toviaz), solifenacin (Vesi-care), and trospium (Sanctura).
    • Muscle relaxants. These can be used to increase the amount of urine that the bladder can hold. These medications include mirabegron (Myrbetriq).
    • Alpha blockers. These help men with prostate problems.They include tamsulosin (Flomax), alfuzosin (Uroxatral), silodosin (Rapaflo), terazosin (Hytrin) and doxazosin (Cardura).
    • Estrogen. At a low dose, estrogen can be applied around a woman’s urethra to improve symptoms.
    • Antibiotics. This can help with urinary tract infections.[11]
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    Consider electrical stimulation. Electrical stimulation can be used to strengthen bladder muscles. This can help reduce the urge to urinate and help reduce incontinence. Electrodes are inserted and used to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.[12]
    • This usually requires a number of treatments that can last for several months.
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    Try inserts. Inserts may be a treatment option for women. Devices such as urethral inserts or pessaries can be used to support the pelvic area and reduce incontinence. They can also help reduce leakage. The insert is a plug-like device that you can use before activities that may lead to incontinence. Pessaries are rings that can be worn all day.[13]
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    Consider herbal supplements. There are some herbs and herb combinations that may be useful for incontinence and overactive bladders. Though considered a "natural" treatment, these can still interact adversely with other medications and prescriptions, so it's important you speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist about whether or not it is safe to take supplements. Many of these herbs have been shown to decreases urges and help decrease pressure on the bladder. These include:[14]
    • Gosha-jinki-gan
    • Horsetail[15]
    • Saw palmetto
    • Corn-silk
    • Capsaicin
    • Hachi-mi-jio-gan
    • Buchu
    • You should know that many herbs traditionally used for kidney and bladder health often promote urination. If you have a problem with urinary incontinence, discuss the herbs with your doctor or research them to decide if they will help lessen your incontinence or not.
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    Consider other medical treatments. There are a few other alternative medical treatments you can try to help. Interventional therapy is one method, which includes injecting bulking materials into the tissue around the urethra and botox injections. These injections help reduce leakage and lessen incontinence.[16]
    • You may also want to try working with a physical therapist who can help you with Kegel-like exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor and may also help you manage pain.[17]
    • Surgery is generally the last option considered, but can be performed to reduce bladder problems.

Method 3
Reducing Your Risk of Urinary Tract Infections

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    Watch your fluid intake. One way to help your bladder healthy is to make sure you drink the proper liquids in the right amounts. You need to stay hydrated and keep drinking enough water to reduce the chances of a bladder infection or a urinary tract infection.[18] You can also drink cranberry juice to reduce the risk of UTIs.[19]
    • The usual recommendation is to drink at least six to eight eight ounce glasses of water every day.[20]
    • Some beverages which contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea and chocolate drinks, can increase the frequency and the urgency of urination. Other beverages, like alcohol drinks, carbonated drinks, and acidic fruit juices (orange and grapefruit juice, lemonade and limeade), can also increase the frequency and the urgency of urination.[21]
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    Empty your bladder as much as possible. Making sure you urinate when you need to and making sure you empty your bladder every time you use the bathroom can help you reduce chances of a UTI. This is most easily done by making sure that you go when you need to go and relax as much as possible, taking as much time as you need to empty out your bladder completely.[22]
    • Urinating often and emptying your bladder helps flush out bacteria.
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    Urinate before and after sex. Urinating before sex can help flush out bacteria that might get spread during sex, and urinating after sex can help flush out bacteria that was introduced during sex.[23]
    • Make sure to use water-based lubricant during sex.
    • You can also clean your genital and anal areas before and after sex.
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    Wipe correctly. After going to the bathroom, especially after having a bowel movement, women need to wipe from the front to the back. This helps prevent bacteria from the feces from spreading to the urethra.[24]
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    Take care with feminine hygiene products. Using some feminine hygiene products, such as douches or feminine deodorants, may cause UTIs. They can irritate the urethra as well as remove natural flora that helps maintain the healthy environment, leading to a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.[25]
    • Douching can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, complications during pregnancy, STIs, and vaginal dryness. If you feel there is something "off" about the smell of your vagina or there is unusual discharge, this means there is something wrong and you should be checked by your doctor. Douching will not solve the problem and, if anything, could make it worse.
    • When using tampons or pads, you should change them often.

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Categories: Urinary Health | Aged Care