Help for Incontinence and Constipation

Daily Health Solutions, Digestive Health, Healthy Aging, Healthy Living, Overactive Bladder/Incontinence
on July 1, 2010

Q: I leak urine when I laugh or sneeze. It seems to be happening more often as I age. Help!

A: Stress urinary incontinence, leakage that occurs when you sneeze, laugh or run, is up to five times more common in women than men. That’s because the pelvic floor muscles that control urine flow lose strength due to pregnancy, childbirth and age-related hormonal changes. To stop the flow, health educator Leah Hyatt of the National Association for Continence recommends doing two sets of 10 “kegel” exercises at least twice a day by tightening your pelvic muscles as if you’re stopping urine flow. Pilates and losing excess weight can help, too. If you want the security of wearing a pad, choose one specifically designed for urinary incontinence, Hyatt suggests. Such pads use super-absorbent gels to keep you dry, she says.

Q: I’ve been taking fiber pills for a week, but I’m still constipated. What else can I do?

A: Loading up on fiber once you’re stopped up can actually leave you feeling even more bloated. You’d be better off with an “osmotic” laxative like Milk of Magnesia or MiraLAX (or good old prune juice), which softens the stool. As a last resort, try a stimulant laxative like Ex-Lax.

Q: I seem to have the urge to pass gas all the time. How can I control it?

A: Most people “pop off”14 times a day. If you’re feeling a bit above average in that regard, try this: For one week, write down everything you eat and how you feel afterward, then cut out foods that seem to cause the problem. Also try limiting carbonated beverages and eating slowly. Anti-gas pills can relieve bloating, but won’t relieve gas completely.