Bladder Health is Within Your Reach
Jul 28, 2012 10:47AM
● By Susan L. Jackson, PT
Bladder leakage can be an embarrassing problem to talk about, causing many women to never tell their friends, or even their doctor, that they have symptoms. Although men experience incontinence less frequently than women, and most often in association with prostate cancer, men tend to seek out help more often. Of those women willing to be open, many believe prescription medication and surgery are the only treatments and “kegels don’t work.” Women will often put up with the inconvenience of wearing pads at all times, or at certain times such as when exercising, having to know where the bathrooms are for all outings, getting up multiple times at night, and avoiding activities where bathrooms are not accessible.
One myth is that limiting fluid intake is a solution. Cutting down on fluid input cuts down on fluid output overall, but it causes some serious problems. The bladder becomes more irritated because its contents are concentrated, and responds with frequent urination of small amounts. Even if one is able to cut down on the number of trips to the bathroom, the health risks of dehydration outweigh any benefit. Muscle cramps, blood pressure changes, and memory loss are just a few of the body functions sacrificed by choosing dehydration.
Another myth is that kegels are the only exercise for bladder health. There are many ways to strengthen the muscles that aide in supporting the bladder. Physical therapists are trained in strength testing for muscles and can give specific guidance on which muscles need strengthening and how to go about it. Some have special training in bladder health.
Solutions exist beyond medication, surgery, kegels, and proper strengthening, including knowing what bladder irritants to avoid, how to handle bladder urges, and how to train the bladder to be on a better schedule.
Susan L. Jackson, PT is a physical therapist specializing in bladder health, and the author of Free Yourself from Incontinence: Your Bladder Guide. She can be reached at Health For Life 321-259-0555, or through her website BladderGuide.com.