Do you sometimes ‘leak’ when you sneeze or cough? Perhaps you feel damp when exercising, or don’t quite make it to the toilet on time? Don’t despair, because you can do something about it. The Australian Physiotherapy Association suggests these simple tips.
- Exercise your pelvic floor. Strong, healthy pelvic floor muscles are essential for staying dry. A physiotherapist skilled in treating incontinence can show you the correct exercises.
- Take care when you cough or sneeze. Lift and hold your pelvic floor muscles. This will strengthen the muscles and prevent leakage.
- Limit picking up heavy objects. Lift and hold your pelvic floor muscles to avoid ‘bearing down’ and straining. Remember to look after your back as well.
- Keep exercising your pelvic floor during the child-bearing years and beyond. Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken your pelvic floor.
- Constipation can strain your pelvic floor, so eat lots of fibre and drink plenty of fluids to maintain a regular bowel habit.
- Keep drinking normal amounts of fluid. Reducing your fluid intake will not help stop leakage and could make things worse. To stay healthy, most people need between 1½ and 2 litres of fluid every day.
- Limit your intake of tea and coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Caffeine increases the urge to go to the toilet. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 cups per day.
- Don’t go to the toilet ‘just in case’. Train your bladder to hold more urine by delaying trips to the toilet.
- Beware of infections. Cystitis and urinary tract infections increase the urge to go to the toilet. Bacteria spread from the bowel to the bladder opening make this problem worse. To prevent infection, always wipe yourself from front to back.
- Don’t just ‘pad it up’. Pads may not be the best or only solution. Fixing your problem means throwing away continence pads forever.
YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPIST CAN HELP
This information was developed by the APA Continence & Women’s Health Group.
© Copyright 1999 Australian Physiotherapy Association. Revised October 2005 ABN89 004 265 150
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