As we age, the risk of bladder troubles increases, especially for women. The fear of bladder leaks is a real thing, and it can take a toll on a person’s quality of life. Because overactive bladder and urinary incontinence are becoming increasingly common, more research is dedicated to addressing bladder troubles.
The latest advance in this area is a wearable device which has already shown promise in improving overactive bladder.
Wearable ankle bracelet improves overactive bladder control
Trials, which have been carried out by the University College London (UCL) Hospitals Trust, used an ankle bracelet that stimulates an implant in the tibial nerve at the bottom of the leg. This stimulation triggers impulses travelling up the nerve to reach the bladder to help it improve over-activity.
According to the recent trials, wearing this ankle device can reduce the frequency of trips to the bathroom by 50 percent. The researchers suggest this technology could assist six to seven million overactive bladder sufferers worldwide.
The new device was created by BlueWind. It is 90 percent smaller than other neurostimulators that are currently on the market. The device is implanted into the tibial nerve in the ankle which travels up the sciatic nerve. At the sciatic nerve, the tibial nerve branches off. One of its branches connects to the sacral nerve, which controls bladder function.
Overactive bladder sufferers need to wear the ankle device for only 30 minutes to be used initially for three times a week to start. The device does not use a battery, so no additional procedures are required to replace batteries in the implanted device.
Dr. Sohier Elneil from UCL explained, “The device was easy to implant, activate, and use. European participants in the study liked the idea of such a small implant and a very short procedure. They were very favorable to having the flexibility and sense of control by treating themselves at home. The patients were also relieved from the burden of logistics associated with therapy in the clinic.”
There is no word on when the product will be publicly available, but with promising results from clinical trials we can only hope that it becomes available for the many patients who suffer day in and day out with overactive bladder.
Natural remedies for overactive bladder
In the meantime, there are other natural fixes to better control overactive bladder.
- Never hold in your urine for too long as it can damage your nerves that send a response to your brain instructing you when to go.
- Stay hydrated so your body can expel toxins and bacteria to avoid any future UTIs.
- Perform Kegel exercises. This involves squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles to maintain bladder control.
- Quit smoking as it irritates the bladder.
Other tips include performing bladder training and bladder-specific exercises. Prior to beginning bladder training, it’s recommended that you keep a journal of your bladder habits. Document every time you go to the bathroom and every time you leak. Your log of bathroom trips and leaks will then be used as your guide to help retrain your bladder.
For starters, create a schedule of your bathroom visits. Check your journal on how many times you go to the bathroom and then add an extra 15 minutes to those times. For example, if you went to the bathroom every hour, schedule bathroom visits for every hour and fifteen minutes. Only use the bathroom at the scheduled time, even if you don’t have an urge to go, and eventually add additional time in-between bathroom breaks.
Another trick is delaying urination. This is done by delaying the urge to urinate by at least five minutes. Meaning, if you feel that you need to go, hold off for about five minutes. Slowly increase this time by 10 minutes, until you can hold off for a whole hour.
If a strong urge to urinate comes on, try to distract yourself by counting down from 100 or practicing deep breathing techniques. If you really need to go, then do use the bathroom, but still visit the bathroom at your next scheduled time.
Another way to train your bladder is by performing bladder-specific exercises. Kegels are designed specifically for the muscles of your pelvic floor. They strengthen your ability to hold in urine, thus reducing the risk of leaks and accidents. The good thing about Kegel exercises is that they can be done anytime and anywhere because they are super discreet!
To perform Kegels, simply contract your pelvic area as if you were holding in urine, hold the position for a few seconds, release, and repeat. As mentioned, this can be done anytime, because no one knows you are doing it. So whether you are watching TV or sitting in the office, you can exercise and improve your pelvic floor muscles.
You can also reduce incontinence by avoiding drinking beverages prior to bed, going to the bathroom before you go to sleep, having yourself tested for urinary tract infections, not smoking, and completing ab and core exercises.