Have You Considered All the Possible Solutions to Your Bladder Issues?
By Sally Williams, DO, physician, Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine Sioux Falls
If you feel like you have to urinate frequently or have that urge too much, it could be your bladder. There are ways to reduce these symptoms and get a good night’s sleep or make it through your workday without all those interruptions.
Frequent urges to urinate and frequent urination, as well as bladder pain or pain during intercourse all are symptoms of interstitial cystitis (IC), a condition about 4 million Americans face, a majority of those being women. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition and it’s often mistaken for a urinary tract infection, but with IC, there is no infection.
Changing a Few Things
Lifestyle changes are often the first line of treatment for IC. Training your bladder to hold urine and quitting smoking are good first steps, but diet is another key to finding relief. I often recommend the great idea of starting with an elimination diet because this tool can help you feel so much better!
Now, you might be like many who think of a diet change and conclude that it’s a lot of work. I’ll be honest: it does require effort. But since it’s for your better health – it’s certainly worth it. When you have someone to guide you through the start of an elimination diet, you’ll have more success.
It can be overwhelming to learn what symptoms and dietary changes correspond, and it can be tricky to discern how to reintroduce foods effectively without a return of the symptoms that led you to try this method in the first place. Our team is filled with experienced integrated nutrition health coaches, and they all are familiar with helping people. We will work with you and we can help you customize your elimination diet to your specific health concerns, like IC.
Breathe to Reduce Stress
Diet and behavior changes are not the only causes of IC. We all face stress whether it’s emotional or physical, and we can’t make it all go away. But we all are equipped with tools to manage stress and we must learn how to use them. Ongoing stress negatively impacts so much of our health and it can take root and lead to IC symptoms, too.
There are a wide range of techniques for stress management, and we offer many of them on-site, including mindfulness practices like meditation and deep-breathing exercises. These can help you make time for proper self-care.
Part of the reason we all face stress is we do not take the time to explore these tools – we all have them, but we don’t know how they work. If you take the time and gain the insight needed to provide yourself this self-care, your body, including your bladder, will thank you.
Exercise can seem scary, but our clinical experts can get you started with gentle exercises like Tai Chi, mind-body exercise or even walking. This sort of beneficial activity can help reduce stress and the symptoms that go with IC as well.
Additional Possible Tools
Other tools I’ve recommended for people seeking relief from IC include acupuncture and the practice of essential oil use. Acupuncture offered in our clinic can be tailored to target IC symptoms and to manage stress. Some patients have reported improvement in some bladder symptoms when they used essential oils like cypress oil.
Nutrient-rich herbs, such as marshmallow root, can also be used to sooth the urinary tract. I recommend trying them as a tea. As integrative medicine experts, we can spell out all your options and help you with a customized plan so you’ll see how the tools work and put them to use – and put IC in your rearview mirror.