How is urinary incontinence treated?
A great deal can be done about bladder problems. Almost everybody with these problems can be helped and many people can be completely cured.

  • Exercise. Sometimes something as simple as doing special exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, or retraining the bladder to hold on for longer, is all that is needed.
  • Medication. Some drugs can relieve and control the troublesome symptoms of an unstable bladder. Your doctor may prescribe one of the following drugs: mirabegron (Myrbetriq), oxybutynin (Ditropan XL, Gelnique, Oxytrol), solifenacin (Vesicare), tolterodine (Detrol LA), trospium (Sanctura), darifenacin (Enablex), or fesoterodine (Toviaz). If your doctor thinks you have a urinary tract infection he or she may prescribe an antibiotic to treat it.
  • Surgery. There are straightforward surgical procedures that have helped many people to control their bladder problems. These include operations to repair weakened muscles or remove any blockage from the bladder.
  • Special products. If the underlying problem cannot be controlled, special products such as pants, pads, collection devices, chair and bed protection allow people manage their incontinence with minimal impact on their lives.

Self-help measures

  • Watch your weight; being overweight makes incontinence more likely.
  • Women should practice pelvic floor exercises—particularly before and after having a baby.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and fiber to prevent constipation.
  • Stop smoking; a chronic cough can cause incontinence.
  • Don’t drink too much liquid, although it is important to drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day.
  • Don’t drink too much tea, coffee or alcohol—these drinks can make you pass more urine.

Further information
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse:www.kidney.niddk.nih.gov
National Association for Continence: www.nafc.org

Last Reviewed: May 2013