As you get older, the bladder changes. The elastic tissue of the bladder walls may toughen and become less elastic, resulting in the need to go to the bathroom more often. Weakening of bladder muscles and pelvic floor muscles can also happen making it difficult for you to empty your bladder completely or cause you to lose bladder control (urinary incontinence/ leakage). In men, an enlarged or inflamed prostate also can cause difficult emptying the bladder and incontinence. Bladder problems are common and can disrupt day-to-day life.
Other factors that contribute to incontinence include being overweight, nerve damage from diabetes, certain medications, and caffeine or alcohol consumption.
What you can do:
To promote bladder and urinary tract health:
- Go to the toilet regularly. Consider urinating on a regular schedule, such as every hour. Slowly, extend the amount of time between your toilet trips.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, lose excess pounds.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit.
- Do Kegel exercises. To exercise your pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises),
squeeze the muscles you would you use to stop passing gas. Try it for three seconds at a time, and then relax for a count of three. Work up to doing the exercise 10 to 15 times in a row, at least three times a day.
- Avoid bladder irritants. Caffeine, acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages can make incontinence worse.
- Avoid constipation. Eat more fiber and take other steps to avoid constipation, which can worsen incontinence