Millions of women and men suffer with
incontinence. Weakened pelvic floor muscles,
which support the internal organs of the
pelvis and prevent leakage, are a major
cause of incontinence. Pelvic floor muscles
in spasm can contribute to incontinence
and can cause pain in the rectal and pelvic
region. Physical Therapy offers muscle
re-education and bladder retraining, so
that each individual can learn how to effectively
use these muscles to reduce their symptoms.
Treatable forms include: stress urinary
incontinence, urge urinary incontinence,
and mixed urinary incontinence which is
a combination of the first two types. Individuals
can have bladder urgency and frequency
Also treatable, is fecal incontinence.
A weakened external anal sphincter and
pelvic floor muscles often cause this problem,
especially in women during the postpartum
period or in men and women later in life.
It is a very distressing situation for an adult
to lose bladder function. Knowing what is normal
is the first step towards making a decision to
ask for help. Answer these 4 questions to help
you decide whether you should see your doctor
or another health professional.
- Do you urinate more than 8 times
during an average day?
- Do you
wake up to urinate more than once after going
- Do you rush to get
to the bathroom for fear of
- Do you worry about
finding a bathroom quickly
when you are away from home?
If you answered yes to any of the above, it
may indicate a bladder condition that can be
addressed by your doctor or a physical therapist
trained in this area.
Normal bladder function is something you take
for granted after you go through “potty
training”. You trust that the bladder
will hold urine until you are ready to empty,
usually at a capacity of about 2 cups of urine.
Depending on the type and amount of fluids
you drink, you should empty 6 to 8 times in
The bladder is in a relaxed state as it stores
urine. As urine begins to collect, you get
gradually stronger “messages” as
the bladder wall stretches. The urge to urinate
eventually leads you to find a toilet; at this
time, the bladder works like a pump to empty
the urine. You should not need to strain or
The ideal time to wait between voids is from
2 to 4 hours; going infrequently can also be
a sign of a problem. Bladder retraining and
avoiding caffeine, citrus or acidic foods are
simple changes that can reduce bladder problems.
Adequate water and fiber intake also play an
important role in keeping the bladder healthy.
With education and proper treatment, you can
stay in control of your bladder instead of
From the Women's Health Section of the APTA
Written by : Barb
Many of the foods we eat on a daily basis may
irritate our bladder and cause leakage or frequency.
You may try eliminating the irritant from your
diet for a few weeks and see if there is an
improvement. There are substitutes for many
of the irritants including: warm broth (watch
the salt content of packaged varieties), herbal
tea, cereal beverages instead of coffee; and
white chocolate instead of regular chocolate.
FOODS TO AVOID
liquor, wine, beer, wine coolers
dark sodas, some darker herb teas (including
decaffeinated versions of all of these),
chocolate, many cough medications and over-the-counter
medications, e.g. some aspirin and antihistamine
preparations (check the labels).
- ACIDIC FRUIT
orange, grapefruit, pineapple, lemon, lime
tomato juice, red spaghetti
sauce, pizza, barbecue sauce, chili
- SPICY FOODS
Thai, Indian, Cajun, Southwestern style
AND ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
sugar, corn sweeteners, honey, fructose,
These ingredients are added to many packaged
foods including soft drinks, sweetened tea,
and processed foods.
From the Women's Health Section of the APTA Written