Urinary incontinence symptoms: What you can do to control this common problem

The obvious answer to “What are some common urinary incontinence symptoms?” is “going when you shouldn’t or don’t want to” — but it’s not that simple, and it’s certainly nothing to feel ashamed of. According to the National Association for Continence, more than 25 million people in the United States experience problems with bladder control. Here are some of the common causes for urinary incontinence and how you can treat it.

What are some urinary incontinence symptoms and types?

According to MedlinePlus, pregnant women, people on bed rest and men with prostate inflammation are all more likely to experience temporary symptoms. The National Institute on Aging points to four types of long-term urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence may set in when a woman starts menopause, and it is brought on by exercise, sneezing, laughing and other activities that put pressure on the bladder. People suffering from diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or MS, or who’ve had stroke may encounter urge incontinence: a perennial sudden, urgent need to urinate. Overflow incontinence can affect people with diabetes and spinal injuries, as well as men with enlarged prostates. Because the bladder is always full, it leaks small amounts of urine in this instance. Older people with normal bladder control may suffer from functional incontinence if they simply have trouble getting around.

What can I do about urinary incontinence?

The first step you should take if you are experiencing urinary incontinence symptoms is to see a doctor. A urologist specializes in issues affecting the genitals and urinary tract. A woman might go to see a urogynecologist instead, depending on the issue. One of these doctors can identify the cause of your incontinence. Reid Health’s Sara Diaz Valentin, M.D. specializes in pelvic floor disorders that often lead to incontinence. According to Dr. Diaz, treatment can include everything from dietary modifications and physical therapy to surgical repair.

Your doctor might also recommend pelvic floor exercises. These exercises, called Kegels, aim to strengthen the muscles that control urination. To do Kegels, flex the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should tighten and relax these muscles for five seconds at a time, eventually working up to holding them for 10 seconds at a time.

Training your bladder to void at certain times can also help with your symptoms, says Senior Health. Try visiting the bathroom every 60 minutes throughout the day. Going regularly may make it easier for you to control your bladder.

When should I seek treatment for urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can feel embarrassing, especially if it disrupts your life. You do not need to suffer urinary incontinence symptoms in silence. Speak with your doctor, or seek specialized treatment for your symptoms today. Together, you and your doctor can identify the underlying cause of your urinary leakage and help you put together a plan to get back control of your bladder.

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