In the second of our articles on bladder problems, Jan Chaseley, Benenden Hospital’s Clinical Nurse Specialist answers more questions on the subject.
How can symptoms related to bladder problems be managed?
Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference: avoiding drinks containing caffeine, which can irritate the bladder, and fizzy drinks which can contain caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Alcoholic drinks and acid in fruit juices can make problems worse. But drinking too little can make the bladder more prone to infection.
“When you are not drinking enough, the bladder gets used to holding smaller amounts of urine and can become overly sensitive," says Jan.
Being overweight can also put excessive pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, so weight loss can be beneficial. Smoking too, can irritate the bladder, so cutting down and quitting helps. So can a healthy diet, so the bowel empties properly-constipation can put extra pressure on the bladder."
“Practising pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor is effective, and we teach patients to do their exercises properly," says Jan.
"We also teach bladder re-training exercises, so people wait longer and control their pelvic floor muscles, so the bladder gets used to holding more again."
When should you ask for support?
“When bladder problems affect people's lives and it becomes difficult for them to enjoy the theatre, undertake long journeys, or go on holidays, it's time to ask for help," says Jan.
''Urinary incontinence causes huge embarrassment and inconvenience but there are often simple lifestyle measures which can help.”
What kinds of treatment are on offer?
Practising pelvic floor exercises regularly, can help to strengthen the muscles and make the bladder less prone to leaking and specialist nurses working at Benenden Hospital can teach these exercises.
The team at Benenden Hospital also offers percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) where an acupuncture needle linked to a TENS machine can stimulate the tibial nerve in the ankle. This acts on the nerve controlling the bladder.
“This is effective and takes up to 12 weekly sessions to work–it feels like a pleasant tingle,” says Jan.
Patients who find that they regularly need to get up to use the loo at night can also be taught to use a small catheter, to retrain the bladder to empty itself properly.
As a last resort the team can also refer to gynaecology or urology teams at Benenden Hospital who can offer further treatments.
An assessment with our specialist nursing team can give you the proactive steps to better understand and manage your condition.
Get in touch or contact our Private Patient Team to access the service by calling 01580 363158.
Published on 27 August 2020