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Urinary Incontinence

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Urinary incontinence is loss of bladder control,  which is a common and embarrassing condition. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that’s so sudden and strong you don’t get to a toilet in time. Urinary incontinence isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom. It can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems. Certain drinks, foods and medications may act as diuretics — stimulating your bladder and increasing your volume of urine.

Many people experience occasional, minor leaks of urine. Others may lose small to moderate amounts of urine more frequently.

Types of urinary incontinence include:

Stress incontinence. Urine leaks when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy.

Urge incontinence. You have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. You may need to urinate often, including throughout the night. Urge incontinence may be caused by a minor condition, such as infection, or a more-severe condition such as a neurologic disorder or diabetes.

Overflow incontinence. You experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine due to a bladder that doesn't empty completely.

Functional incontinence. A physical or mental impairment keeps you from making it to the toilet in time. For example, if you have severe arthritis, you may not be able to unbutton your pants quickly enough.

Mixed incontinence. You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence.

Complications of chronic urinary incontinence include:

Skin problems. Rashes, skin infections and sores can develop from constantly wet skin.

Urinary tract infections. Incontinence increases your risk of repeated urinary tract infections.

Impacts on your personal life. Urinary incontinence can affect your social, work and personal relationships.

Urinary incontinence isn’t always preventable. However, to help decrease your risk:

Maintain a healthy weight

Practice pelvic floor exercises

Avoid bladder irritants, such as caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods

Eat more fiber, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence

Don't smoke, or seek help to quit smoking

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