couple with water pistols

Hydration and Continence

Whatever term you prefer to use, let's normalise conversations about going to the toilet.

Many men and women experience incontinence and yet it is still something few of us are comfortable talking about. There are many impacts from incontinence including distress, dehydration, poor sleep, feeling isolated and an increased risk of falling when rushing to the bathroom.

Embarrassment can stop us accessing support and yet visiting your local clinic can result in a range of potential solutions. There are many ways to self-help too.

elderly couples
Prevent incontinence button
manage incontinence button
find out more about incontinence button

How to prevent incontinence

Drinking at least six to eight cups of liquid each day, unless a health professional has advised otherwise, can help you stay hydrated. Drinking less can make bladder problems worse. Staying hydrated and reducing use of bladder irritants can also reduce the likelihood of developing a urinary tract infection.
Think about swapping out drinks that make you wee more often, such as caffeine or alcohol. You can switch to your favourite decaf teas or non-alcoholic equivalents of your chosen beverage.
Try to eat a healthy diet with plenty of fibre to prevent constipation, which makes urinary incontinence worse.
Look to include core strengthening exercises and those that improve your balance into your routine, to help you to continue to get to the toilet in time

Think about how to regularly practise pelvic floor muscle exercises and try to get into the habit as early as possible.

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce excess pressure on the bladder which can weaken pelvic floor muscles. Find support at Weight Watchers Hampshire if you need it.

Coughing caused by smoking puts a strain on pelvic floor muscles. SmokeFree Hampshire offer a variety of ways to help you quit.

Try not to regularly go for a wee ‘just in case’. Lots of us do this before long journeys, but regularly going to the toilet when you don’t need to, can teach your bladder that it needs to be emptied when it doesn’t. This can reduce your bladder capacity and increase the risk of incontinence.

How to manage incontinence

You are not alone in your experience. In many cases, continence can be improved or resolved. Many people experience different levels of incontinence, and your GP Practice team will be very used to talking to people about it.

If you are experiencing incontinence, seek advice from your General Practice Team or from your local clinic. Some simple tests may help you find the cause of your incontinence and get some support.

Staying active without worrying:

If you are experiencing incontinence, contact your local continence service to get the right support whilst trying some self-help options.

It can be daunting to go out and not know where the nearest toilets are. Get planning and plot your route, use the Great British Toilet Map (or the Changing Places Toilet Map for fully accessible toilets) so you know in advance where you can access a toilet in a hurry.

Pads are not a solution to incontinence but can be used to help stay active whilst seeking support from the continence service. If products are used, they should be changed promptly when they're soiled to reduce the chance of developing a urinary tract infection.

Have trouble getting to the toilet in time because of physical or cognitive problems (like dementia)?

Action Plan

1. Try to take part in regular strength and balance exercises to get to the toilet without fear of falls or rushing.

2. Wear practical clothing that can be taken off easily.

3. Look to include good lighting, grab rails or signs to help you find or use the toilet.

Close

Experience leaks while coughing or laughing?

Action Plan

1. Practise your pelvic floor exercises (both men and women). Remember, it may take 3 to 6 months of doing pelvic floor exercises before you see results - don’t give up.

2. Find support to maintain a healthy weight.

3. Seek help to quit if you smoke.

Close

Have a sudden urge to use the toilet?

Action Plan

1. Practise your pelvic floor exercises (both men and women). Remember, it may take 3 to 6 months of doing pelvic floor exercises before you see results - don’t give up.

2. Think about swapping out drinks that make you rush to the toilet, such as caffeine or alcohol. Switch to your favourite decaf teas or non-alcoholic equivalents of your chosen beverage.

3. Speak to a health professional who may prescribe bladder training exercises.

Close

Sources of support

NHS have an overview of incontinence causes, diagnoses, treatments, and top tips.

Contact your local clinic to talk through any concerns related to continence.

Alzheimer’s Society offer a useful online guide to toilet problems, continence and dementia, including causes, solutions and how this might affect a person with dementia.

The free-to-download CONfidence app provides practical health advice, self-care tips and links to support for people with bladder and bowel leakage (incontinence).

See ‘Toilets and Accessibility’ on the Connect to Support Hampshire ‘Leisure’ information page for useful websites and resources to help you.