Get that “gotta go” feeling too often? If you have an overactive bladder, home remedies may be your best shot at regaining a sense of confidence and normalcy in your daily life. That’s because an overactive bladder — which can cause a sudden urge to pee or an involuntary loss of urine — can be embarrassing and isolating.
Your first step should be a visit to the doctor to determine the cause of your condition and to confirm that you indeed have an overactive bladder. He or she may recommend a treatment program that includes medication, periodic catheterization, and a host of lifestyle changes like these. The following home remedies for overactive bladder can definitely help you regain control of your health.
1. Stick to water.
Coffee, alcohol, soda, and diet drinks can increase the spasms and contractions that cause overactive bladder (aka urge incontinence), says New York City urogynecologist Lisa Dabney, MD. “Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics, plus they’re very acidic, which irritates the bladder lining. Artificial sweeteners can have the same effect on some women. Skip spicy food and citrus fruit, too; both can also irritate the bladder,” she says.
2. But don’t overhydrate.
Instead of aiming for eight glasses of H2O a day, drink only when you’re thirsty. “Otherwise, your bladder will constantly be full, and you’ll have to go all the time,” says Dr. Dabney.
3. Do Kegel exercises.
Pelvic exercises are one of the top natural remedies for an overactive bladder, especially for women. Gotta go? Do a Kegel to help stop your bladder from contracting, buying you extra time to get to the bathroom. How to do a Kegel: Clench your vaginal muscles, hold for five seconds; release.
4. Watch the clock.
Produce little urine when you go? Your bladder may be sending false “gotta go” signals. To overcome “fake” signals, take a bathroom break every two hours — but not in between. (Worried about leaks? Wear a thin liner for a few weeks until your body adjusts.)
5. Clean up your act.
One of the best ways to prevent overactive bladder is to lead a generally active and healthful life. What does that mean? Maintain a healthy weight and get regular, daily physical activity and exercise. Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol and quit smoking.
Know when to see a doctor.
Call your doctor if you’re leaking more than a few times a day or your frequent bathroom breaks don’t respond to the tips above. You may need an Rx and/or physical therapy, says Dabney.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.