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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Urinary Incontinence
If you have urinary incontinence, you can make some changes that will help you control it.
Avoid Bladder Irritants
If you find some food or drinks make your symptoms worse, try to avoid them. Some people have problems with caffeine, citrus, or alcohol. These can make the urge to pass urine stronger. Avoiding them will help ease these problems.
Schedule Your Fluid Intake
Most of the fluids you drink will reach your bladder within 2 to 3 hours. It's best to time your intake to those hours when you know you'll be near a restroom. If you wake at night to pass urine, it may be helpful to stop drinking fluids 3 hours before you go to bed.
Know Your Medicines
Many medicines can make you pass urine more often until they wear off. Talk to your doctor about the medicines you take. You may be able to plan ahead and schedule the best time to take them.
Try Collectors and Pads
There are many devices that will catch urine. Small amounts can be controlled with sanitary napkins or special condoms (for men). Larger amounts can be absorbed by protective undergarments. These have high-tech linings that prevent moisture from breaking down your skin. The use of collectors and pads, along with scheduling your fluid intake, can turn some bigger incontinence problems into minor ones.
Use Catheters as Advised
If you have neurogenic bladder or another problem that makes it hard to pass urine, you may need to use a catheter. A catheter is a tube that is placed through the urethra and into the bladder. Some people may have a tube that goes through the belly wall and directly into the bladder. You will learn how to pass the tube into the bladder so it can be drained. Men can use a condom that's attached to the tube. This helps lower the risk of infection.
Your healthcare team will teach you how to use and care for the tube. You will be shown how to plug it, then drain it when you reach a toilet. Or, you will have a bag attached to it. You will carry it around with you and drain it as needed.
If you're overweight or obese, consider losing the excess weight. This will help you have fewer episodes of stress incontinence leaks. Stress incontinence results when certain activities put pressure on the bladder. Leaking can be triggered by laughing, sneezing, coughing, or lifting heavy objects. Carrying extra weight also keeps more pressure on the bladder.
Talk to your doctor about a weight loss program that is right for you.
Behavioral interventions for urinary incontinence. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900645/Behavioral-interventions-for-urinary-incontinence. Updated August 28, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2019.
Treatments for bladder control problems (urinary incontinence). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems/treatment. Updated June 2018. Accessed January 18, 2019.
Urinary incontinence. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-incontinence. Accessed January 18, 2019.
Urinary incontinence in adults. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/voiding-disorders/urinary-incontinence-in-adults. Updated July 2018. Accessed January 18, 2019.
2/5/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900573/Urinary-incontinence-in-women: Subak L, Wing R, West DS, et al. Weight loss to treat urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(5):481-490.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrienne Carmack, MD
- Review Date: 12/2018
- Update Date: 01/18/2019