Incontinence: avoiding triggers

Do you feel you're always on a bathroom run? Tired of looking for the next facility? Is your car trip a succession of bathroom stops? You're not alone. Incontinence is a demanding condition. Always persistent, interrupting all your activities, it's even a nocturnal nuisance…disrupting your sleep with non-stop trips to the bathroom.

Caffeine is not a friend to those with incontinence. A diuretic and a bladder stimulator, caffeine can cause a sudden, overwhelming need to urinate. Alcohol also acts as a bladder stimulant and a diuretic - and can leave you urgently searching for the facilities. Diuretics make the body produce more urine, causing the bladder to fill quickly. The end result - you're suddenly faced with an immediate need to use the washroom.

Liquids in general should be taken in moderation when you're incontinent. Too much fluid in too short a time can overload the bladder and cause leakage. Interestingly, too little fluid can cause your urine to become concentrated with salts, which can irritate a sensitive bladder and actually make your problem worse. Make sure you drink appropriate amounts of fluids - most people require 6 to 8 glasses each day.

Other incontinence culprits include: carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, corn syrup, and spicy foods. These can irritate the bladder lining and trigger voiding. Refined white sugar, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and decaffeinated coffee and tea can all play havoc with the irritated bladder, increasing incontinence. Smokers may notice that their chronic coughing increases pressure on their urinary sphincter muscles (at the bladder opening) and worsens incontinence.

There are fluids that can actually help soothe an irritated bladder. Water, apple juice, and grape juice are easily tolerated by a sensitive bladder.

You may be surprised to find that medications are frequently a common cause of incontinence. Blood pressure medications, heart medications, muscle relaxants, sedatives, diuretics (water pills), and antidepressants can all trigger bladder problems. Even over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and cold remedies can worsen incontinence.

If you have swelling in the feet, ankles, or legs or a heart condition, you might have noticed you need to use the bathroom more often when you lie down. That's because the heart is able to draw the fluid away from swollen areas more easily when you're lying down and speeds the water's passage through the kidneys. Putting your feet up for an hour before you go to bed can really help. This gives your body ample time to rid itself of the excess fluid it draws away from the swollen areas, so you can actually go to bed without a full bladder disturbing you all night.

Avoiding the triggers that can make your incontinence worse is a simple, effective way to help control a condition that can often control you. Just imagine the freedom of living a life that isn't dictated by the next bathroom stop. Find out more about what causes incontinence.

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