Bladder & Bowel

Bladder & Bowel Articles

What to do when medication makes you constipated

Many medications can contribute to constipation. Common offenders include antidepressants, opioids, calcium-channel blockers, and anticholinergics. Older adults can be more susceptible to the constipation side effect of medications. Constipation symptoms include having bowel movements fewer than three times a week; having hard or small, lumpy stools; having stools that are hard to pass; straining; having painful bowel movements; or having the sensation of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. Long-term treatment options include prescription medications, over-the-counter remedies, fiber supplements, and an increase in dietary fiber. More »

Where to turn for treatment of incontinence

Incontinence in middle and older age is common. You may realize it's a problem if you have a frequent need to go to the bathroom (urge incontinence), or if you leak urine easily when you cough or have a good laugh (stress incontinence). Fortunately, incontinence help is readily available. To find treatment of incontinence, the Harvard Special Health Report Better Bladder and Bowel Control recommends that you start with your primary care physician. But not all physicians have the necessary interest or experience. If your doctor seems unable to help, keep looking. More »

Defend yourself from diverticulitis

About half of Americans ages 60 to 80 have diverticulosis, a condition in which pea-sized pouches, called diverticula, bulge outward from the colon. Most of the time the pouches don’t cause any problems, but if the diverticula become inflamed or infected, the result is diverticulitis, which produces symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, and pain or tenderness in the lower left abdomen. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a high-fiber diet can help prevent the problem. More »

Reducing dietary salt may mean fewer nighttime bathroom trips

Men who battle with nocturia—waking up at night to urinate—may find relief by reducing the amount of salt in their diet. People who lowered their daily salt intake from 10.7 grams to 8 grams reduced their average nighttime frequency of urination by almost 50%—from 2.3 times to 1.4 times. More »

New thinking about urinary tract infections

Treating a urinary tract infection (UTI) in an older adult can be complicated. Symptoms may include a burning feeling with urination, a sense of urgency to urinate, increased frequency of urination, and confusion. But some UTI symptoms are similar to those of other conditions in older age. Doctors say that anyone with new classic symptoms should probably be treated for a UTI. However, if the only symptom is confusion, considering other causes or waiting a day or two to see if the UTI resolves may be appropriate. More »

Kegels: Not for women only

Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles have long been seen as just for women, but they may be a way for many older men to address some common unpleasant issues, such as urinary leakage, bowel trouble, and even erection problems. A physical therapist can evaluate a man’s needs, design an individual program, and show him how to do the exercises correctly so he can then perform them at home.  More »