- Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet. If your diet lacks good fats, including those from nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil, or adequate whole-grain fiber, you’re at risk for repetitive constipation, which puts unnecessary weight and strain on your bladder, says Nancy A. Huff, MD.
- Practice yoga or Pilates. Little muscles that you can’t see, such as those that surround the bladder, can be weak without your knowing it. To strengthen these deep, internal muscles, try doing exercises that build core strength.
- Don’t smoke. According to Huff, chronic coughing—which may be caused by smoking and other respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea—can interfere with proper bladder function and control mechanisms.
- Watch your weight. Overweight and obese people have a greater risk of incurring UI problems. Why? The more weight you carry around, the more pressure on your bladder—another reason to adopt a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.
- Re-evaluate your meds. Certain pharmaceutical drugs can stimulate patients to develop UI and OAB. According to a recent study, some antidepressants, anticholinergics, and alpha-adrenergic blockers and agonists carry side effects that can stimulate types of urinary incontinence (American Family Physician, 2000, vol. 62, no. 11). The research also shows that caffeine, diuretics, alcohol, and narcotic drugs are specifically known to induce OAB. If you’re experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor about finding an alternative therapy to your current medication that doesn’t provoke bladder distress.