Successful management of incontinence depends most of all on the right diagnosis. It may include adult incontinence products, exercises, medicines, special devices, special procedures, or surgery. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of treatment. Ask questions, express concerns, and get the right treatment for you.
Behavioral training and lifestyle changes work well for managing certain types of incontinence and may be the only treatment you need.
Bladder training may involve:
- Learning to delay urination after you feel the urge to go. You start by trying to hold off for 10 minutes every time you feel the urge, stretching the time between trips to the toilet to two to four hours.
- Double voiding. This is urinating, waiting a few minutes, and trying again. You learn to empty your bladder more completely to avoid overflow incontinence.
- Learning to control the urges by relaxing, breathing slowly and deeply, or distracting yourself with an activity.
- Keeping a voiding diary to share with your doctor, which will present a detailed picture of your problem and help your healthcare professional determine appropriate next steps.
Scheduled toilet trips. This is timed urination or going on a routine, planned basis, usually every two to four hours according to the clock rather than waiting for the need.
Fluid and diet management. Modify your daily habits to regain control of your bladder. Cut back on or cut out alcohol, caffeine, and acidic foods. Reduce liquid consumption carefully, lose weight, and increase physical activity.
Remember not to get dehydrated. Dehydration can irritate the lining of the bladder and result in urge incontinence.
Physical therapy, specifically pelvic floor muscle exercises, or Kegel exercises, strengthen your urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles to help control urination. They are especially effective for stress incontinence and may help urge incontinence.
Absorbent Pads and Garments
Adult incontinence products can ease the discomfort and inconvenience of urine leakage.
Pads and protective garments are available to help you manage urine loss. Most are no more bulky than normal underwear, and you can wear them comfortably under everyday clothing. Men who have problems with dribbles of urine can use a guard, a small pocket of absorbent padding that's worn over the penis and held in place by close-fitting underwear. Men and women can wear absorbent briefs, protective underwear, or absorbent pads or liners. Learn more about Attends pads and protective undergarments.
Preventing incontinence is not always possible, but you may decrease your risk with these lifestyle changes:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Practicing Kegel exercises
- Avoiding bladder irritants, including stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, or carbonated beverages
- Eating more fiber
- Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water each day; dehydration can irritate the lining of the bladder and result in urge incontinence
- Exercising more often
Lifestyle and Home Remedies
Problems with urine leakage may require you to take extra care to keep your skin clean and dry to prevent skin irritation.
If you have urge incontinence or nighttime incontinence, move any rugs or furniture you might trip over or collide with on the way to the toilet. Use a nightlight to illuminate your path and reduce your risk of falling.
If you have functional incontinence, a bathroom renovation may help, possibly adding a bathroom in a more convenient location, widening an existing bathroom doorway, installing an elevated toilet seat, adding a few well-placed lights, or using a bedpan.
After a urinary event, clean the affected area as soon as possible. Use warm water and don’t scrub forcibly. Special cleansers are available for incontinence that allow frequent cleansing without over-drying or irritating the skin. Attends Washcloths are available for this type of care.
There are other options for managing incontinence. Talk to your doctor about:
- Medical devices, such as a urethral insert or a catheter
- Interventional therapies, such as radiofrequency therapy
- Surgeries, such as a sling
- Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture