Talk to Your Doctor about other ways to manage your bladder control problems.
If you have urinary incontinence, tell your doctor. Incontinence can be treated and often cured. Even if a cure is not possible, careful management can help you feel more relaxed and in control.
The first step in treating a bladder control problem is to see a doctor. Your doctor will:
- give you a physical exam and discuss your medical history
- ask about your symptoms and the medicines you use
- ask if you have been sick recently or had surgery.
Your doctor also may do a number of tests which might include:
- tests that measure how well you empty your bladder
In addition, your doctor may ask you to keep a daily diary of when you urinate and when you leak urine. Your pattern of urinating and urine leakage may suggest which type of incontinence you have.
Besides bladder control training, there are several other ways to help manage incontinence:
- Aids. Sometimes doctors suggest a small, throwaway patch; a small, tampon-like urethral plug; or a vaginal insert called a pessary for women with stress incontinence.
- Medication. A doctor can prescribe medicines to treat incontinence. Some drugs prevent unwanted bladder contractions. Some relax muscles, helping the bladder to empty more fully during urination. Others tighten muscles in the bladder and urethra to cut down leakage. These drugs can sometimes cause side effects such as dry mouth, eye problems, or urine buildup. Vaginal estrogen may be helpful in women after menopause. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and side effects of using any of these medicines for a long time.
- Implants. A doctor can inject an implant into the area around the urethra. The implant adds bulk. This helps close the urethra to reduce stress incontinence. Injections may have to be repeated after a time because your body slowly gets rid of these substances.
- Surgery. Sometimes surgery can improve or cure incontinence if it is caused by a problem such as a change in the position of the bladder or blockage due to an enlarged prostate. Common surgery for stress incontinence involves pulling the bladder up and securing it. For more serious stress incontinence, the surgeon may use a wide sling. This holds up the bladder and narrows the urethra to prevent leakage.
- Absorbent products. You can now buy special absorbent underclothing. It is not bulky and can be helpful.
- Diet. Changing your diet can help bladder control. Certain foods and beverages can irritate the bladder.
- Caffeine, for example, is a natural diuretic and stimulant for the bladder.
- Hot spices such as curry, chili pepper or cayenne pepper may contribute to incontinence.
- Citrus juice that is more acidic -- such as juice from a grapefruit, orange, lime or lemon -- may worsen symptoms.
- Fluids. Even though the amount of fluids you drink can affect incontinence, you do need to drink enough fluids to help keep your bladder and urinary system flushed out (1.5 to 2 quarts of fluid per day), unless your doctor has directed you otherwise.
- It may help to schedule your fluid intake.
- Most of what you drink reaches your bladder within two to three hours.
- Avoid drinking a large amount of liquids before bedtime or when you're not near a restroom.
If you have incontinence while you exercise, avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages (such as coffee or soda) two to three hours before exercising, and urinate right before your workout.
- Remember, to drink plenty of fluids while you're exercising to prevent dehydration.
National Association for Continence. Accessed April, 2008. Available at http://www.nafc.org.
Simon Foundation for Continence. Accessed April, 2008. Available at http://www.simonfoundation.org.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed April, 2008. Available at http://www2.niddk.nih.gov .