Urinary incontinence” is the medical term for when a person has a sudden loss of urine or loses bladder control.
Incontinence is a very common problem, but it is not necessarily a normal part of aging. It can occur in both men and women and for different reasons.
There are different types of incontinence. Each causes different symptoms. The 3 most common types are:
- Stress incontinence: is when people leak urine when they laugh, cough, sneeze, or do anything that “stresses” the belly. Stress incontinence is most common in women, especially those who have had a baby.
- Urgen incontinence: is when people feel a strong need to urinate all of a sudden. Often the “urge” is so strong that they can’t make it to the bathroom in time.
- Mixed incontinence: People with mixed incontinence have symptoms of both stress and urgency incontinence.
Your doctor can help determine if what type of incontinence you have and what might be causing it to happen. He or she may also be able to suggest options for treatment.
Some simple steps to reduce the episodes of leakage include:
- Reduce the amount of liquid you drink, especially a few hours before bed.
- Cut down on any foods or drinks that make your symptoms worse. Some people find that alcohol, caffeine, or spicy or acidic foods irritate the bladder.
- Lose weight, if you are overweight.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
- If you take medicines called diuretics, plan ahead. These medicines increase the need to urinate. Take them when you know you will be near a bathroom for a few hours.
The treatment options differ depending on what type of incontinence you have, and whether you are a man or a woman. Some of the treatment options include: bladder retraining, pelvic floor muscle exercises, medicines to relax the bladder, or surgery to help restore the support of the urethra (i.e. urethral sling) or by using either electrical stimulation or botox injection of the nerves that help relax the bladder.