Healthy Bladder Habits

There are many things you can do on your own to improve your bladder health and decrease incontinence.

Monitor your fluid intake, voiding frequency and volume with a diary. You may see trends that symptoms follow

Keep yourself hydrated
Drink at least 4-6 cups (1000-1500ml) of fluid a day unless advised otherwise by your doctor. Don’t limit fluids in the hope of improving your incontinence. If you drink too little the urine becomes very concentrated. This will irritate your bladder and make it want to empty more often even if there is only a little in it.

The best fluid to drink is plain water.

Don’t drink all of your fluids at once
Space your fluids out during the day. If you drink a lot at once, you can expect the need to go to the toilet urgently not too long afterward.

Reduce intake of irritating fluids
Caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages may make your irritable bladder symptoms worse. Artificial sweeteners, citrus fruits and acidic foods, such as tomatoes may also cause trouble.

Try to reduce caffeinated drinks to 1 or 2 cups a day. Some people can be more sensitive to caffeine and it may be best to stop drinking all caffeinated beverages.

Be aware that decaffeinated beverages still contain some caffeine. It is best to stick to caffeine-free drinks.

Void regularly throughout the day
Ignoring your body’s cues to void can lead to an overly full bladder, feelings of urgency, and leakage.

Reduce your fluid intake in the evening and void well prior to bed
Drinking less in the evening reduces the need to get up at night to void.

Empty your bladder completely with each void
You may need to shift positions, stand up and sit down again, lean forward or gently push on your lower abdomen.

Stop smoking
Smoking irritates the bladder causing feelings of urgency. It can also be the cause of a chronic cough that can put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.

Manage a chronic cough
If you are a smoker or have asthma, COPD or bronchitis, these conditions can cause you to cough more weakening the pelvic floor muscles. Talk to your family doctor about controlling your asthma, COPD or bronchitis.

Stay at a healthy weight
Weight loss has been shown to decrease urinary leakage by decreasing outside pressure on the bladder.

Keep your bowels regular
Straining during bowel movements weakens the muscles used to control urine leakage. Keep stools soft and avoid constipation. Try to increase your fiber or take gentle stimulants and stool bulking agents such as natural fiber, milk of magnesia, Metamucil or mineral oil are recommended.