Many of us have found ourselves racing to the restroom just in the nick of time. Some of us don’t always quite make it. There are terms for this if it is problematic and there are a few things you can implement in your daily routine that might help you have a better time with going to the loo. Whether you are 2 or 102, if you’ve been potty trained, you shouldn’t be leaking or not making it often.
“Urinary urgency” is the strong sense of needing to urinate suddenly.
“Urinary frequency” is the need to urinate more often than usual.
Both can be quite distressful and both can throw a kink in your plans. Often, if they disrupt your sleep, this is called “nocturia”.
There are a few serious medical conditions for which you would want to seek help immediately if found in conjunction with urinary urge or frequency: if you have a fever or chills, cloudy or bloody urine, or if you have unusual discharge down there.
Some simple strategies to think about first if you’re having urinary urges or frequency, without any other symptoms, would be to look at your behaviors or lifestyle preferences and try to modify them. Here are a few techniques that are safe, relatively easy, and inexpensive:
There are some foods and beverages that tend to irritate the bladder more than others and can cause more urine production. Try eliminating them from your diet for two weeks and only slowly start reintroducing them, one at a time, if your symptoms start to improve. Some examples of bladder irritants include:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Carbonated beverages
- Tea & Coffee
- Artificial sweeteners (like the ones that come in the pink, yellow, and blue packets but can also be hidden in food and drinks as well)
- Cigarettes & tobacco
- Fruits (and their juices): cranberries, grapes, oranges, lemons, peaches, pineapple, plums, apples, and cantaloupe
- Vegetables (and their juices): onions, tomatoes, chilies, peppers
- Milk/Dairy: aged cheese, sour cream, yogurt
- Grains: rye & sourdough breads
- Seasonings: vinegar, pepper, walnuts, peanuts
There is also a more detailed list of these irritants and alternatives on the Continence Center for Brigham and Women’s Hospital website.
Drinking Too Much or Too Little:
Drinking moderate to large amounts of liquid in a short period of time can overwhelm your bladder. Try drinking small amounts of water over the course of the day, trying to reach half your body weight in ounces. Spread out your intake by drinking two glasses at each meal and a glass between meals would allow a 120lb person to drink about 64oz of water each day. Also, cutting off fluids after a certain time, such as 7:30-9pm before bedtime, could allow for decreased frequency at night.
Conversely, drinking too little water in a day can cause your urine to become too concentrated and also lead to urgency or frequency.
This leads to checking the color of your urine. Dark urine is more concentrated and can signal dehydration, while clear urine could mean you’re drinking too much, especially if it’s accompanied by frequent trips to the restroom.
Implement Healthy Patterns:
Maintaining a healthy body weight is a good start to reducing overactive bladder, as the extra pounds and tissue can place unwanted pressure on the bladder. Bladder training or scheduling timed intervals to go to the restroom, and trying to increase the time between each scheduled bathroom visit, is another option instead of going just when you feel the urge. By urinating at set times during the day, you retrain your body in a positive way. Try to hold off the urge by waiting 5 minutes after you feel the first urge and try to add 10 minutes the next time.
See a myofascial physical therapist trained in pelvic floor work:
Sometimes there are restrictions in the pelvis or areas surrounding the abdomen that can cause the bladder to feel constraint or areas that are too loose to support the bladder resulting in incontinence. Surgeries, having babies, hernias, interstitial cystitis, frequent constipation, prostate issues, and injuries to that region are all examples of things that can cause restrictions or weakening surrounding the bladder. A physical therapist trained in pelvic floor work can perform an evaluation to see if there are any physical underlying reasons for your incontinence. We can also work with your physician to see if our joint efforts can maximize your results.
As mentioned before, no matter if you are a toddler or celebrating the golden years, you should not have to worry about leakage or whether you’ll make it to the bathroom or not. Things that have become normal in society (“oh, once you have had kids, you are going to leak”), don’t mean that you have to live with that.
If physical therapy for pelvic floor issues seems a bit much, we also have stretching classes taught by a physical therapist to help educate you on muscles that need stretching for less tightness and/or pain. Click here for full details »
Please do not hesitate to use us as a resource for any of your questions or concerns. We are more than happy to help! Call (830) 431-0773 for more information or click here for our free Pelvic Floor guide.