Urinary Incontinence Episodes Can Be Reduced through Medication and Dietary Changes

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Pfizer Inc. recently announced results of a study showing patients with overactive bladder who took Toviaz experienced a reduction in the average number of urinary incontinence episodes per 24 hours. New treatments in medicine — combined with a change in eating and drinking habits — can help those managing incontinence, says Dianna Malkowski of The CareGiver Partnership.

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Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

The good news is there are continual advances in treatments, products and attitudes about incontinence.

As pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer Inc. discover new ways to treat urinary incontinence, individuals managing the condition also often see success in following simple rules when it comes what they eat and drink, says Dianna Malkowski, physician assistant, nutritionist and professional adviser for The CareGiver Partnership, a national retailer of incontinence products and other home healthcare supplies.

“Although incontinence often goes hand in hand with aging or illness, the good news is there are continual advances in treatments, products and attitudes about incontinence,” Malkowski says. “And then there are some basic rules that can help individuals with incontinence reduce urinary frequency.”

1. Monitoring fluid intake. Drinking too little can result in dehydration and urine concentrated with bladder-irritating salts. Drinking too much fluid at a time causes increased amounts of urine that can overwork a bladder.

“Because fluid intake can be perceived inaccurately, it may be helpful to measure and record daily fluid intake, along with incontinence episodes,” she says. “It may help you notice patterns, and help your health care provider monitor your condition.”

2. Increasing dietary fiber. Compacted stool can cause bladder nerves to become overactive, increasing urinary frequency. Men over 50 should aim for about 30 grams of fiber per day; women over 50, about 21 grams.

“If you or a loved one has special dietary needs, nutritionals can help meet daily requirements, in forms that are easy to swallow and digest,” Malkowski says.

3. Avoiding bladder irritants. Alcohol and caffeine are bladder stimulants and diuretics, which can cause a sudden need to urinate. Even teas and carbonated beverages may contribute to bladder problems. Other known irritants to watch for are sugar and artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, spicy foods, and acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus.

“An infection, such as that of the urinary tract, can also irritate the bladder and cause strong urges to urinate. See your doctor if you suspect an infection.”

Visit The CareGiver Partnership’s Incontinence page for more information on types of incontinence, products and skin care tips. Or visit The CareGiver Partnership blog for an extensive online library of articles on incontinence and other topics.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisers for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike.

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Tom Wilson