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Urinary incontinence (UI)
is when you lose control of your bladder. UI develops because your bladder cannot store or empty urine properly. The 3 most common types of UI are stress incontinence, urge incontinence, or both.
Common symptoms include the following:
- You feel like your bladder does not empty completely when you urinate.
- You urinate often and need to urinate immediately.
- You leak urine when you sleep, or you wake up with the urge to urinate.
- You leak urine when you cough, sneeze, exercise, or laugh.
Call your doctor if:
- You have severe pain.
- You are confused or cannot think clearly.
- You have a fever.
- You see blood in your urine.
- You have pain when you urinate.
- You have new or worse pain, even after treatment.
- Your mouth feels dry or you have vision changes.
- Your urine is cloudy or smells bad.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to help strengthen your bladder control.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Do pelvic muscle exercises often:
Your pelvic muscles help you stop urinating. Squeeze these muscles tight for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Gradually work up to squeezing for 10 seconds. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions a day, or as directed. This will help strengthen your pelvic muscles and improve bladder control.
Train your bladder:
Go to the bathroom at set times, such as every 2 hours, even if you do not feel the urge to go. You can also try to hold your urine when you feel the urge to go. For example, hold your urine for 5 minutes when you feel the urge to go. As that becomes easier, hold your urine for 10 minutes.
- Keep a UI record. Write down how often you leak urine and how much you leak. Make a note of what you were doing when you leaked urine.
- Drink liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. You may need to limit the amount of liquid you drink to help control your urine leakage. Do not drink any liquid right before you go to bed. Limit or do not have drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol.
- Prevent constipation. Eat a variety of high-fiber foods. Good examples are high-fiber cereals, beans, vegetables, and whole-grain breads. Prune juice may help make your bowel movement softer. Walking is the best way to trigger your intestines to have a bowel movement.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh and about the best exercise plan for you. Weight loss and exercise will decrease pressure on your bladder and help you control your leakage. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Use a catheter as directed to help empty your bladder. A catheter is a tiny, plastic tube that is put into your bladder to drain your urine. Your healthcare provider may tell you to use a catheter to prevent your bladder from getting too full and leaking urine.
- Go to behavior therapy as directed. Behavior therapy may be used to help you learn to control your urge to urinate.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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