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Urinary Incontinence


Urinary incontinence (UI)

is when you lose control of your bladder. UI occurs 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:

  • A bladder that does not empty completely when you urinate
  • Urinating often and a need to urinate immediately
  • Leaking urine when you sleep, or waking up with the urge to urinate
  • Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, exercise, or laugh

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have severe pain.
  • You are confused or cannot think clearly.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • 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 urine is cloudy or smells bad.
  • Your mouth feels dry or you have vision changes.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for UI

may include medicines to help strengthen your bladder control. You may need surgery or other procedures to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles or repair damages to parts of your urinary system.

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.


  • A catheter may be used 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.
  • 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. Limit or do not have drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol. Do not drink any liquid right before you go to bed.
  • 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 to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2018 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.