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Your Health

Ways to cope with urinary incontinence

An overactive bladder ("urinary incontinence") is a condition in which urine periodically leaks during the day. More common with increasing age, millions of people have it. Symptoms range from mild leaking to uncontrollable wetting. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), says women are almost twice as likely as men to report severe leakage.

Bladder control problems occur when your muscles are either too weak or overactive. Stress incontinence is triggered when your muscles are too weak. These episodes can occur when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or lift heavy objects. Urge incontinence happens when your muscles are overactive. It's the urge to urinate, even when you have just small amounts of urine in your bladder.

Causes of urinary incontinence

This condition is frequently thought of as a part of normal aging, but it can also be caused by a number of other things – urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, constipation, and even some prescription medicines. Other causes include:

  • Damage to nerves controlling the bladder. This can come from a variety of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.
  • Blockage from an enlarged prostate in men.

If you think you may have urinary incontinence, visit your doctor. Typically, doctors go over your symptoms, your medical history, how often you empty your bladder, when and how you experience leakage, and how much of it you're experiencing.

By changing some basic behaviors, you may be able to improve your symptoms. Exercising your pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises, for example, can help. Be sure to ask your doctor for detailed descriptions of any prescribed exercises deemed right for you.

The National Institutes of Health; nih.gov; 2013