Urinary incontinence is a common problem in the elderly. It can be caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, over-excitement of bladder muscles, neurophysiological problem of lower urinary tract function, or other factors related to the environment and psychology, constipation or drug therapy. Even incontinence is merely a symptom, daily life, personal hygiene and social interaction can be affected. Out of embarrassment, patients may try to manage symptoms without seeking professional help. Those methods include reduce water consumption.
In fact, cutting down on water consumption can actually exacerbate the problem as it increases the chance of urinary tract infection. On the contrary, maintaining adequate hydration can help in preventing urinary incontinence. Two litres of liquid (including water and other beverages) per day helps to reduce the chance of urinary tract infection. Nevertheless, alcohol, coffee, tea and soft drinks should be avoided as it irritates the bladder. Also, emptying the bladder regularly at 2-3 hourly intervals can improve the control of urination and increase the awareness of the desire of urination.
In addition, high fibre diets, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals, can reduce the chance of urinary incontinence caused by constipation. Maintaining a healthy body weight by regular exercise can avoid stress incontinence. For example, pelvic floor exercises can strengthen muscle power and restore voiding control, which in turn helps to prevent urinary incontinence.
If you are affected by urinary incontinence, consider it a health problem rather than something to be ashamed of. Face the problem positively and seek medical advice at your earliest convenience to identify the underlying cause(s) and receive appropriate treatment.