When you have urinary incontinence

Definiton

You have urinary incontinence. This is when you are not able to keep urine from leaking from your urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body from your bladder. Urinary incontinence may occur as your age or after a surgery or childbirth. There are many things you can do to help keep urinary incontinence from affecting your daily life.

Skin Care

You may need to take special care of the skin around your urethra. These things may help.

Clean the area around your urethra right after urinating. This will help keep the skin from getting irritated. It will also help keep infection away. Ask your doctor or nurse about special skin cleaners for people who have urinary incontinence.

When bathing, use warm water and wash gently. Scrubbing too hard can hurt the skin. After bathing, use a moisturizer and a barrier cream.

Deodorizing tablets may help with any odor. Ask your doctor or nurse if they might be right for you.

If your mattress becomes wet:

You can also use water-resistant sheets to keep urine from soaking into your mattress.

Diet

Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Try to lose weight if you are overweight. Being too heavy will weaken the muscles that help you stop urinating.

Drink plenty of water:

Do not drink anything 2 to 4 hours before going to bed. Be sure to empty your bladder before going to bed to help prevent urine leakage during the night.

Avoid foods and beverages that can make urine leakage worse. These include:

Eat more fiber in your diet, or take fiber supplements to prevent constipation.

Tips when you exercise:

Controlling the Need to Urinate

Some activities may increase leakage for some people. NOT doing these things may help:

Ask your doctor or nurse about things you can do to ignore urges to pass urine. After a few weeks, you should leak urine less often.

Train your bladder to wait a longer time between trips to the toilet.

Urinate at set times -- even if you do not feel the urge. Schedule yourself for every 2 to 4 hours.

Empty your bladder all the way. After you go once, go again a few minutes later.

Ask your doctor about drugs that may help.

References

Goode PS, Gurgio KL, Richter HE, Markland AD. Incontinence in older women. JAMA. 2010;303(21):2172-2181.

Shamliyan TA, Kane RL, Wyman J, Wilt TJ. Systematic review: randomized, controlled trials of nonsurgical treatments for urinary incontinence in women. Ann Intern Med. 2008 Mar 18;148(6):459-73. Epub 2008 Feb 11.

Shamilyan TA, Wyman JF, Ping R, Wilt TJ, Kane RL. Male urinary incontinence: Prevalance, risk factors, and preventive intervetions. Rev Urol. 2009 Summer; 11(3): 145-165.

Payne CK. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: behavioral and pelvic floor therapy, urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Sauders Elsevier; 2011:chap 69.


Review Date: 9/24/2012
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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