Dispelling Myths about a Leaky Bladder

January 16, 2015

For those who suffer from a leaky bladder or urinary incontinence, the symptoms may be difficult to discuss. Simple embarrassment may discourage individuals from expressing concerns with family members or medical professionals.

As a result, many people mistakenly believe the myths regarding urinary leakage. Here are some common incorrect assumptions, followed by the facts.

– “If you have bladder problems, you shouldn’t exercise.”
Not true. Exercise plays a major role in overall health and weight control.  Excessive body weight is a risk factor for bladder leaks, and in fact makes symptoms worse. Workout routines can be modified to avoid high-impact activities such as running and jumping that can put extra strain and pressure on the bladder.

– “Drinking too much water increases your chances of overactive bladder.”
False. People may significantly limit their water intake thinking that it will control incontinence. In reality, restricting fluids can lead to dehydration and constipation – which can actually bring about or worsen bladder leaks. A smarter approach is to consume smaller amounts throughout the day instead of drinking big glasses a few times.

– “Incontinence is just part of getting old.”
Not necessarily. For women, the decrease of estrogen that occurs during menopause may affect bladder control, but that doesn’t mean urinary leakage is inevitable after a certain age. The muscles of the pelvic floor can be strengthened like other muscles; physicians can provide guidance for appropriate exercises.

– “You just have to live with it.”
Definitely not. Waiting to seek treatment prolongs discomfort and may worsen the condition. In most cases, urinary incontinence can be greatly reduced or eliminated through options such as behavioral therapies, medications or in some cases, surgery.

For some, symptoms of incontinence increase only gradually, leading patients to procrastinate and suffer longer than they have to. Seeking treatment when incontinence is mild can prevent both discomfort and embarrassment, so speak with your urologist about any concerns.

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