Q: I've started leaking urine when I laugh or run, and I just can't hold it as long as I used to. What can I do to reverse this trend? — Janine G., Chicago
A: Over 25 million American adults contend with urinary incontinence — about 80% are women, and most are 50 or older. In fact, the National Poll on Healthy Aging found that 43% of women in their 50s and early 60s experience urinary incontinence, and 51% of those 65-plus do. Triggers include coughing or sneezing for 79% of those with the condition; having to go immediately — and unstoppably — affects 64%; 49% say they leak when they laugh; and 37% say it happens while exercising.
On average, women wait six and a half years after their symptoms appear to get a diagnosis, and men are even slower to address the problem. That's a shame, because 80% of the time there are solutions! So make an appointment with a urologist to discuss your symptoms.
Remedies: Pelvic floor muscle training, using Kegel exercises daily, is a powerful tool. Go to Sharecare.com and search for "How can I do a proper Kegel exercise." You'll find Dr. Mike's in-depth directions for women and men.
Bladder training is also helpful; it allows you to extend the time between bathroom visits and learn to program when you need to urinate (check out www.ucsfhealth.org/education/bladder-training for instructions).
Other at-home remedies include:
n Losing weight, if you need to. It takes pressure off the bladder.
n Eliminating beverages with caffeine, carbonation and alcohol, which may irritate the bladder or urethra.
n Treating constipation if it's a frequent problem; you can start by eating higher-fiber foods.
n Getting plenty of physical activity. The Nurses' Health Study found that middle-aged women who were most physically active were least likely to develop incontinence.
n Quitting smoking!
If necessary, your doctor can suggest medications and minimally invasive procedures to stem the flow. We hope you'll take steps immediately to find solutions.
Q: I've been taking migraine medications for years. While they've helped, I'm always looking for ways to reduce my dependence on them. Are there any alternative approaches? — Joelle D., Montclair, New Jersey
A: The arsenal of medications that are now available to both prevent and treat migraine headaches is impressive, and has done a lot to reduce the number of days a month that people are knocked off their feet. But, like you, Joelle, many people are looking for holistic ways to manage the pain and dodge some of the medications' side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, difficulty thinking, weight gain, depression and even dizziness, muscle weakness and chest pressure.
Overall, 1 in 5 U.S. women have migraine headaches, as do 1 in 16 men and 1 in 11 children. It's estimated that the economic toll tops $13 billion annually. Clearly, talking with your doc about incorporating alternative treatments into your therapy is a smart move.
Here's one very interesting approach: A new study published in Neurology found that when yoga is used as an add-on therapy with medication it can slash the number of headache days and the amount of medication needed. In a group of participants taking medication and doing yoga, headache frequency fell from 9.2 headaches a month to 4.7, and they decreased their medication intake by 57% after three months. The medication-only group went from 7.7 headaches monthly to 6.8 and decreased their medication intake by 12%. Both groups were also given counseling on lifestyle changes that can help (and you should try), including getting adequate sleep, eating meals at scheduled times and exercising.
If you want to try yoga, the routine was a one-hour yoga instruction that included breathing and relaxation exercises and postures three days a week for one month. Then, at-home practice was for five days a week for two months. It is certainly worth trying, so you can say "O-m-m-m" instead of "Ouch!"
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit sharecare.com.
(c)2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.