There are a variety of ways to treat or even completely control urinary incontinence, but it depends on the cause. While there are sometimes multiple factors in play that cause this condition, treatment options are limited by patient motivation, cognitive level, physical impairment, or anatomic abnormalities of the urinary tract. For most, conservative management is the first line strategy and often is quite successful in decreasing the severity of leakage.
Behavior modification and bladder retraining are among the first strategies employed. Timed voiding and double voiding are habits that are easy to adopt and can help empty residual or retained urine from the bladder. Taking inventory of how much and what kinds of fluids are consumed over the course of the day is important. Caffeine intake in the form of coffee, tea, soda, or bladder irritants such as vinegar in salad dressing, citrus or other foods, if eaten in large quantity can be an easy culprit for bladder misbehavior. Simply reducing water consumption will less the sense of urinary urgency, frequency and incontinence, either urge or stress provoked. Timing of fluid consumption is also simple to adjust, that is, minimize caffeine or water at least 3 hours prior to bedtime to less nighttime bathroom trips.
Timing of medication during the day, such as when to take a diuretic/ water pill for high blood pressure, can impact frequency of bathroom trips. Diuretics force more urine production by the kidneys to lower blood pressure, but the bladder must still store and expel it. Forcing more urine production in the afternoon may leave someone relatively “drier” prior to bedtime, and may also less nighttime bathroom trips.
Pelvic floor retraining in the form of Kegel muscle exercises can help to strengthen the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles to curb leakage of urine when a sneeze comes on or the urge becomes great. Squeezing down on the sphincter before sneezing gets the body ready for the rise in pressure that may force urine past the sphincter. Repetitively practicing Kegel muscle exercises can curb incontinence a great deal, but these exercises must be performed daily.