If you are like most men dealing with incontinence, you want to explore all options for maximizing freedom and comfort. Strategies include lifestyle changes, medical devices such as catheters, absorbent products, and incontinence medication. Though it might be tempting to rely on medication – pop a magic pill to make incontinence disappear – the reality is usually not that simple or straightforward.
Medications most commonly used for incontinence
Alpha Blockers – Used to treat urge and overflow incontinence, this class of drugs helps the bladder empty by relaxing the bladder neck muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate. Side effects can include fatigue, nausea, rash, tremor and sleep disturbances.
Mirabergon – This drug treats OAB (overactive bladder) by relaxing the bladder and increasing capacity. Though it is well tolerated by some, others have reported joint pain, dizziness, diarrhea, headache, fatigue and dry mouth.
Anticholinergics – This class of drugs is useful for urge incontinence. It works by calming an overactive bladder. Side effects include drowsiness, constipation, dry eyes and dry mouth. A Kaiser Permanente article titled, What if I’m taking an anticholinergic medication? addresses concerns from patients and doctors about the possible link between medications with strong anticholinergic side effects and the risk for developing dementia, pneumonia or Alzheimer’s disease. Study researchers advise those concerned about the possible link to use the lowest dose for the shortest time. This advice applies to all users concerned about risks and side effects of incontinence medications. Consider employing additional strategies, such as:
- Bladder training – Designed to reduce leaks and urgency, bladder training helps you gradually increase the amount of time you can hold urine between when it is empty and when you have to void. To practice bladder training:
- Urinate as soon as you get up in the morning
- Return to the bathroom and attempt to void, even if you don’t feel like you have to go, at your next scheduled time. You can work with your healthcare provider to determine an appropriate bladder training schedule. Follow the schedule only during the day. You do not need to get up at night unless you are awakened by the need to urinate.
- If you feel the need to void before your next scheduled time, practice urge suppression techniques.
- If you are able to suppress the urge, continue to follow the void schedule. If the urge persists, void as needed and return to the schedule.
- Gradually increase the time between scheduled bathroom trips. You should begin to notice improvement in incontinence symptoms in 6 to 12 weeks. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Simply take note of any patterns that may have contributed to the problem, adjust as needed and continue.
- Urge suppression – When you feel the need to void try not to panic. Instead take several slow, deep breaths. Sit down if you can and focus on releasing tension in your body. Train your thoughts on something other than your bladder.
- Kegel Exercises – Strengthening your pelvic floor can improve incontinence symptoms. To do this isolate the muscle – you can find it by stopping urine midstream or tightening the muscle that keeps you from passing gas. Once you have identified the muscle, practice contracting it. Work up to three sets of ten contractions daily. This will help significantly over time.
- Changes in diet – some foods can irritate the bladder and increase urine volume. Reduce or eliminate your intake of citrus, spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol.
- Men’s Liberty – Men’s Liberty offers a new kind of external catheter that can reduce the risk of infection and UTI caused by traditional products, while giving the user the confidence of long-wear protection. Our easy to use male catheter can be applied in two minutes or less and is available at little or no out of pocket cost through most private insurance plans, Medicare and Tricare. Unlike incontinence medications, Men’s Liberty has no known side effects. Give us a call today to learn more.