Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

We often talk about incontinence as if it has already happened. In most cases, if you’re visiting this website, it probably has. But there are many things that you can do that can prevent incontinence from starting in the first place. Most of these things may also help you manage, or even eliminate symptoms of incontinence once you’ve already gotten it. Read below for some tips to stop incontinence in its tracks.

5 Tips To Prevent Incontinence

Tip #1: Maintain A Healthy Weight

Carrying around extra weight puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing the muscles to weaken and lead to leaks. In addition, folks who are overweight generally put extra pressure on their bladder, which can lead to leakage. Maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Bonus: incorporating exercise into your day can strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles, leading to even greater protection from leaks.

Tip #2: Don’t Smoke

Smoking on its own is an ugly habit and harmful to your health in more ways than one. People who smoke can eventually develop a chronic “smokers cough”. This chronic coughing can put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing it to weaken and lead to incontinence. Smoking also irritates the bladder, causing you to need more frequent trips to the bathroom. And, smoking can lead to bladder cancer. Need help kicking the habit? Read these tips.  

Tip #3: Keep Your Pelvic Floor In Shape

The pelvic floor is a basket of muscles that supports the bladder, rectum and the uterus in women, and the bladder, rectum and prostate in men.  These muscles are essential in maintaining control over your bladder and bowel. Keeping the pelvic floor healthy can go a long way in preventing or treating incontinence.  Learn more about the pelvic floor and how you can protect it here. 

Tip #4: See A PT After Childbirth

We just talked about how important the pelvic floor is in maintaining continence. But certain things, like childbirth, can really wreak havoc on the pelvic floor and cause it to weaken. Many women don’t understand the impact that a weakened pelvic floor can have on them, even long after the baby is born.  Seeing a physical therapist specially trained in women’s health soon after childbirth can be very helpful, as they can ensure that you are healing properly and learning how to correctly (and safely) get your pelvic floor back into shape.  If left untreated, a weakened pelvic floor can lead to things like incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse later in life, so this simple step can go a long way in protecting yourself for the future.  Learn more about how a physical therapist can help you here.

Tip #5: Watch Your Diet

This may seem to echo Tip #1, but even if you are at an ideal weight, if you’re eating foods that irritate your bladder (and if you’re susceptible to incontinence) then you may be setting yourself up for leaks.  There are many common bladder irritants (see a list of some of them here) but they can vary from person to person: what irritates one person may not bother another. If you do experience leaks, pay close attention to your diet and take note of foods that may be triggering leaks.

How Smoking Contributes To Incontinence

How Smoking Contributes To Incontinence

We all know that cigarette smoking  is bad for us. But did you know that it can also lead to incontinence?  

Studies have shown that smokers are at an increased risk for incontinence.  Over time, many smokers develop a chronic cough, which can put an enormous amount of pressure on the pelvic muscles, causing them to weaken and increasing the chance of stress incontinence. Additionally, smokers also experience more frequent urges to use the restroom, as smoking is an irritant to the bladder. Even more alarming, it’s been shown that smoking can also lead to bladder cancer.

What’s a smoker to do?

The obvious fix is to quit smoking – not only to alleviate or prevent incontinence, but for a host of other health reasons as well. 

While quitting is not easy, there are a few things you can do to help you succeed:

  1. Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help give you tips to quit, and may suggest medication or programs that can help. 
  2. Get the support of your family and friends. Tell your loved ones what you are trying to do so that they can support you and give you the encouragement you need when you are feeling tempted to smoke.
  3. Avoid your triggers. Many people feel the urge to smoke during certain activities – grabbing drinks with friends, at certain times of the day, etc. Try to avoid these activities for a while or find ways to stay busy during your usual smoking times.
  4. Take up a hobby. With all the time you’ll save by not smoking, you may be able to finally start that project or hobby you’ve been thinking about. Doing something with your hands (knitting, woodworking, etc.)may also help keep you busy and help you avoid the urge to pick up a cigarette.

Smoking is a hard habit to quit for many people. But with determination and perseverance, it can be done. And it’s never too late to see the benefits of quitting – a recent study showed that even smokers who quit in their 60’s saw an increase in their lifespan.

Have any tips for quitting? Please share them with our readers in the comments below!