Young boy with toilet paper roll peering through the hole.

Family Traditions: Are You Passing on Bathroom Habits Along With Your Pie Recipe?

One of the best things about family traditions is sharing things we love: Our favorite pie recipes, music we play while decorating the
Christmas tree, even gifts we may give to loved ones year after year.

But if you suffer from an overactive bladder (OAB), you may also be passing along habits that aren’t so great for your offspring, along with genes that may cause overactive bladder. While you can’t change your genetics, you can teach good habits that can help decrease your children’s chances of developing OAB as they get older.

Once we understand that genetics may play a role in Urinary Incontinence, which is a characteristic of OAB, it’s crucial to mitigate factors that can cause or exacerbate OAB. This is important particularly in women who are more susceptible to the disorder. Use this holiday season as an opportunity to pass on healthy habits that may help prevent OAB in later years.

Teach Children to Stay Hydrated

Water makes up 50-70% percent of our individual body weight. Drinking enough water can help keep us healthy; more importantly, not drinking enough water can lead to bladder irritation, causing potential accidents. It can also lead to stronger smelling and more concentrated urine. Not drinking enough water can also lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infections, which may lead to other urinary, kidney and bladder issues.

Try to make water the default beverage in your home. Serve fruit juice or carbonated beverages only sporadically and as a treat. Children, just like adults, should drink at least 64 oz. of water a day. If you are concerned about bedwetting or nocturnal incontinence, it’s helpful to drink more earlier in the day and cut off drinks by around 6 P.M.

Go When You Need To – Don’t Hold It In

We all know the feeling of holding in urine when we’re taken by surprise with the need to go. But holding in urine for too long can weaken bladder muscles, leading to urinary incontinence. If incontinence runs in your family, you don’t want to encourage the habit of holding it in.

Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, and Other Food or Drinks that Can Irritate the Bladder

If you’re eating to reduce the symptoms of your OAB, you should be feeding your children or adult children the same healthy foods – and avoiding bladder irritants like alcohol, chocolate, spicy foods, caffeine, and citrus fruits. In most cases, you can find healthier alternatives for all of these foods.

Build a Good Diet Around Healthy Foods

So what foods should you serve for bladder health? Consider “superfoods,” often loaded with fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy oils. Foods like leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, and heart-healthy walnuts and salmon can reduce the risk of heart disease, help you lose weight, and help prevent Type-2 diabetes. These are good for bladder health and overall health.

Maybe it’s time to re-think those family pie recipes, after all. Instead of sugary sweet apple pie, consider pumpkin or sweet potato pie made with Stevia or other natural sweeteners. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be bland or boring; it just means swapping out some foods with healthier alternatives.

Teach Your Children It’s Okay to Seek Treatment

Understanding that OAB may have genetic factors gives you an opportunity to teach your children the signs to look for – especially as they get older or experience pregnancy and childbirth. As websites like Bladder Chatter and other organizations seek to remove the stigma surrounding OAB, open discussion is vital.

There is no need to live with an uncomfortable medical condition when treatments are available. Encourage your adult children to speak about their struggles with you and their doctor to find treatments that work for them.