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Monday, May 1, 2023

Role Of Diet And Lifestyle Changes In Managing Incontinence In Girls

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Incontinence in girls refers to the involuntary loss of urine from the bladder. It is a relatively common condition that can occur in girls of all ages. Incontinence can be embarrassing and have a significant impact on a girl's self-esteem and quality of life.

There are two main types of incontinence in girls:

  • Urge incontinence: This type of incontinence occurs when a girl has a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. It can be caused by an overactive bladder or a neurological condition.
  • Stress incontinence: This type of incontinence occurs when there is pressure on the bladder, such as during coughing, laughing, or physical activity. It is more common in girls who have weakened pelvic muscles, such as after childbirth.

Other causes of incontinence in girls include urinary tract infections, constipation, and more. For girls with severe incontinence, protective diapers for women may be a great option. They are available in a range of sizes and styles, as needed for type of incontinence.

 In this article we will dive into the role of lifestyle changes and diets in managing incontinence among the girls.

Reasons Why girls Can Experience Incontinence

There are several reasons why girls may experience incontinence, including:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): UTIs are a common cause of incontinence in girls. The infection can cause pain and discomfort, which can lead to difficulty controlling the bladder.
  • Overactive Bladder: Some girls may have an overactive bladder, which causes them to feel the urge to urinate frequently and urgently. This can lead to incontinence if they are unable to reach the bathroom in time.
  • Constipation: Constipation can put pressure on the bladder and make it difficult for girls to control their bladder.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes during puberty can affect the bladder leading to incontinence.
  • Neurological Conditions: Some neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, can affect bladder control and lead to incontinence.

Diet and lifestyle changes can play a significant role in managing incontinence in girls. As mentioned earlier, increasing water intake, avoiding bladder irritants, maintaining a healthy weight, and practicing good toilet hygiene can help prevent or reduce the frequency of incontinence episodes.

A doctor can help determine the underlying cause of incontinence and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Pelvic floor exercises and timed voiding can also help improve bladder control. It is important to note that dietary and lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to address incontinence in some cases, and medical treatment may be necessary.

Here are some steps that can help:

  • Increase Water Intake

Drinking plenty of water can help keep the bladder healthy and prevent constipation, which can contribute to incontinence.

When a girl does not drink enough water, her urine becomes concentrated, which can irritate the bladder and lead to incontinence. Drinking plenty of water dilutes the urine and reduces the risk of irritation.

It is important to note that drinking too much water can also contribute to incontinence, as it can increase the frequency of urination. Girls should aim to drink enough water to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy bladder, but not so much that they are constantly running to the bathroom.

  • Avoid Bladder Irritants

Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder, leading to incontinence. Common bladder irritants include:

  • Caffeine: Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks contain caffeine, which can irritate the bladder and increase the urge to urinate.
  • Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages can irritate the bladder and increase the production of urine, leading to incontinence.
  • Carbonated drinks: Carbonated beverages, such as soda, can cause bloating and put pressure on the bladder, leading to incontinence.
  • Spicy foods: Spicy foods can irritate the bladder and increase the production of urine, leading to incontinence.

Limiting or avoiding these bladder irritants can help reduce the frequency and severity of incontinence episodes in girls. Other dietary changes that may help manage incontinence include reducing the intake of artificial sweeteners, which can also irritate the bladder, and avoiding foods that are known to cause constipation, as constipation can contribute to incontinence.

It is important to note that the specific dietary irritants may vary from person to person, and it is best to consult with a healthcare specialist or a registered dietitian to determine which foods and drinks may be contributing to a girl's incontinence.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of incontinence and improve bladder control.

It is important to note that sudden weight loss or excessive exercise can also contribute to incontinence, as it can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and get certain yearly health checkups to ensure you are overall healthy.

  • Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, are a form of physical therapy that can help manage incontinence in girls. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder and urethra.

By strengthening these muscles, girls can improve their bladder control and reduce the risk of incontinence. To perform pelvic floor exercises, girls should:

  • Identify the correct muscles: To identify the pelvic floor muscles, girls should imagine that they are trying to stop the flow of urine. The muscles that they use to do this are the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Contract the muscles: Girls should contract the pelvic floor muscles for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. You should repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times in a row, three times a day.

It may take several weeks or even months of regular pelvic floor exercises to see an improvement in bladder control.

In addition to pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback therapy, which involves using sensors to monitor muscle activity, and electrical stimulation, which involves sending small electrical currents to the pelvic floor muscles, may also be recommended to help manage incontinence in some cases.

  • Timed voiding

Timed voiding is a behavioral technique that involves scheduling regular trips to the bathroom, even if the girl does not feel the urge to urinate. By emptying the bladder on a regular basis, girls can reduce the risk of accidents and improve bladder control. 

Timed voiding may not be effective for all girls, and it may need to be combined with other behavioral or medical interventions to manage incontinence.

  • Regular Exercise & Good Hygiene

Exercise can improve overall health and fitness, as well as strengthen the muscles that support the pelvic floor, which can reduce the risk of incontinence.

Aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming, or cycling, can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of incontinence. Strength training exercises, such as squats and lunges, can also help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.

It is important to note that sudden, high-impact exercises or excessive straining during exercise can actually weaken the pelvic floor muscles and increase the risk of incontinence.

Therefore, it is important to exercise in a safe and sustainable way, and to avoid exercises that put too much stress on your body.

In addition girls should be encouraged to practice good toilet hygiene, including wiping front to back to prevent the spread of bacteria and infection.

Final thoughts

By making these changes, girls can strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, improve bladder control, reduce the risk of accidents, and enhance their overall health and well-being.

It is important to consult with a doctor or a physical therapist to develop a personalized plan for managing incontinence, as each girl's situation is unique. By taking proactive steps to manage incontinence, girls can enjoy an active and fulfilling life with confidence and comfort.

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