Urinary incontinence, poor bladder control, affects more than 13 million Americans. It is most common in people over the age of fifty and women are three times more likely to have than men.
Two common types of urinary incontinence are:
• Stress. This bladder control problem is caused by a weak urinary sphincter (allowing urine to pass when too much pressure is exerted on the bladder such as when coughing or laughing).
• Urge. This bladder control problem is caused by overexcited nerves (causing a sudden urge to urinate when little urine is in the bladder).
Natural Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
Kegel exercises (perineal muscle tightening) are especially helpful for stress urinary incontinence. This exercise was designed for women but can also be helpful for men. If done daily, you should regain bladder control in about 3 weeks.
You can feel the specific muscle group to be exercised by stopping urination midstream. However, doing Kegel exercises while urinating (stopping and going) is discouraged because this practice has been associated with urinary stasis and urinary tract infection and can actually weaken the muscles.
Contract the proper muscle group (without contracting the buttocks or thighs) for 3 seconds then relax for 3 seconds. Repeat this 10 times. Do this 3 times a day. Each day, try to gradually increase the seconds from 3 to 10.
Once improved, it is important to continue this exercise daily to keep the muscles strong and maintain proper bladder control.
Bladder training is especially helpful for urge urinary incontinence. You will train your bladder to empty on schedule by gradually lengthening the time between trips to the bathroom. It can take 3-12 weeks to regain bladder control.
Empty your bladder first thing in the morning. During the day, urinate every 30 minutes, even if you don't have the urge (some people may be able to start out with every 60 or 90 minutes). If the urge occurs before your scheduled time, try to postpone it by relaxing and taking deep breaths. Gradually lengthen the intervals by 15 minutes until you are urinating every 3-4 hours. During the night, urinate when necessary.
Other natural treatments for urinary incontinence include:
• Cranberries and vitamin C. Infections can worsen bladder control. Cranberries can keep bacteria from sticking to the bladder which can cause infections and vitamin C can prevent bacteria from growing in the urine.
• Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan. This Chinese herbal formula is said to help prevent urinary dribbling.
• Devil's claw. This herb is said to strengthen the bladder and prevent urine leakage.
• St. John's wort, parsley, and skullcap may help improve bladder control. All three herbs are said to relieve nervous tension, which can be a cause of urinary incontinence.
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and simple sugars.
• Acupuncture is also said to be an effective treatment for urinary incontinence.
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