There are things you can do to help reduce symptoms caused by the late effects of pelvic radiotherapy. These things will also help keep your bladder healthy.
Drink plenty of fluids
Try to drink at least two litres (four pints) of fluids a day. This is about eight glasses. And if it’s hot or if you’re exercising, it is important to drink even more. It’s best to drink small amounts regularly throughout the day.
Drinking too little will make your symptoms worse. Urine that’s concentrated irritates the bladder. Drinking more reduces bladder irritation and trains your bladder to hold more urine. It also reduces your risk of getting urine infections.
Drink the right fluids
Some drinks can irritate the bladder and make symptoms worse. Cut down on or avoid:
- alcohol (especially spirits)
- fizzy drinks
- drinks that contain caffeine (such as tea, coffee, cola and cocoa)
- acidic drinks (such as fresh orange or grapefruit juice)
- drinks with artificial sweeteners (‘diet’ or ‘light’ drinks).
Try to drink water, diluted fruit juice and herbal teas.
Try not to go to the toilet ‘just in case’
If you go to the toilet as a precaution, the bladder won’t fill completely and it won’t get used to holding more urine.
Give up smoking
If you smoke, ask your GP about getting help to give up.
The chemicals in cigarette smoke irritate and damage the lining of the bladder. This can make your symptoms worse. Smoking is also a major risk factor for cancer and for other serious health conditions.
Avoid putting extra pressure on your pelvic floor muscles
The following will help avoid putting extra pressure on your pelvic floor muscles:
It is especially important to do this if you have stress incontinence.
Find ways of reducing stress
Feeling anxious can make you feel as if you need to pass urine. It can also make your symptoms worse.