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Urinary Problems and Injuries, Age 12 and Older (cont.)

Check Your Symptoms

Home Treatment

Bladder infections

Starting home treatment at the first minor signs of a bladder infection may prevent the problem from getting worse, clear up your infection, and prevent complications.

  • Drink more fluids—enough to keep your urine light yellow or clear like water—as soon as you notice the symptoms and for the next 24 hours. This will help dilute the urine, flush bacteria out of the bladder, and decrease irritation. Note: If a medical condition such as a kidney or heart problem prevents you from drinking more fluids, make sure you are drinking your usual amount of fluids. Drinking cranberry juice may reduce the chances of having urinary tract infections.
  • Urinate when you feel the urge. Don't wait until a more convenient time.
  • Do not drink alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages, which can irritate the bladder.
  • Take a warm bath, which may help relieve pain and itching.
    • Avoid using bubble bath, because it may cause more irritation. If urinary pain or vaginal burning and redness occur in a young girl, she may have an allergy to bubble bath or soap.
    • Use gentle soaps, such as hypoallergenic soaps. Avoid deodorant soaps. Use as little soap as possible.
  • Apply a heating pad over your genital area to help relieve the pain. Set the heating pad temperature on low. Never go to sleep with a heating pad in place.
  • Examine your genital area. Increased redness may mean skin irritation.
  • Wear loose clothing and soft cotton underwear. Do not use soaps, perfumes, or feminine hygiene sprays on the genital area.
  • Avoid intercourse until symptoms improve. Do not use a diaphragm or spermicidal cream, foam, or gel. A diaphragm may put pressure on your urethra. This pressure may slow down or prevent your bladder from emptying completely. Spermicides can cause genital skin irritation.

Recurrent bladder infections in women

If you have frequent bladder infections without complications, you and your doctor may develop a self-treatment plan. The plan usually includes taking antibiotics at the first sign of a bladder infection. Contacting your doctor is not necessary. For more information, see the topic Urinary Tract Infections in Teens and Adults.

If you are certain that your symptoms are caused by a bladder infection, follow your doctor's instructions for taking the medicine and monitoring your symptoms. Keep a diary of the number of times you use your self-treatment plan. Call your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve after 48 hours of treatment.
  • You start having bladder infections more often than in the past.

Your self-treatment plan is developed for your health needs. Do not take antibiotics that have not been specifically prescribed for this bladder infection. Do not take antibiotics left over from a previous prescription or antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is common, especially among older adults. Home treatment can often help decrease your symptoms.

  • Talk to your doctor about your incontinence at your next regularly scheduled appointment.
  • Reduce the amount of fluids you drink to no more than 2 qt (2 L) daily.
  • Establish a schedule of urinating every 2 to 4 hours, whether you feel the need or not.
  • Make a clear, quick path to the bathroom, and wear clothes that you can easily remove, such as ones with elastic waistbands or Velcro closures. Keep a bedpan or urinal close to your bed or chair.
  • Practice "double voiding" by urinating as much as possible, relaxing for a few moments, and then urinating again.
  • Do not drink caffeinated or carbonated beverages, such as caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda.
  • Do not drink more than 1 alcohol drink a day.
  • Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Constipation may make your symptoms worse. For more information, see the topic Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
  • Talk with your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines you take, including nonprescription medicines, to see whether any of them may be making your incontinence worse.
  • Strengthen your pelvic muscles by doing Kegel exercises every day and by having a regular exercise program.
  • Control your weight. If you are overweight, try to lose some weight. Remember that effective weight-loss programs depend on a combination of diet and exercise. For more information, see the topic Weight Management.
  • Quit smoking or using other tobacco products. This may reduce the amount that you cough, which may reduce your problem with incontinence. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

Home treatment for other urinary problems

For information about home treatment for other urinary problems, see the following:

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Other symptoms develop, such as fever, belly pain, or vomiting.
  • You are unable to urinate or have increasing difficulty urinating.
  • Symptoms of a bladder infection do not completely go away after home treatment.
  • More urinary symptoms develop, such as localized back pain (flank pain) or blood in your urine.
  • Symptoms become more severe or more frequent.
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