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At Work With Incontinence

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WebMD Feature

No matter the type of incontinence you have, on-the-job solutions can help.

“There are some great strategies to help manage it, to interfere as little as possible with work,” says Craig Comiter, MD, professor of urology at Stanford University School of Medicine. 

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

Diagnosing Overactive Bladder

Even though bladder problems affect some 33 million adults in the U.S., it can be an embarrassing subject to discuss, even with your doctor. That’s why overactive bladder, also known as OAB or urge incontinence, is often called the "hidden condition." You might believe, as many people do, that overactive bladder is just an unpleasant but inescapable part of getting older. Actually it isn’t -- and there is something you can do. Seeing your doctor and having tests for overactive bladder can help you...

Read the Diagnosing Overactive Bladder article > >

Here are a few to try.

Limit Liquids

Many workers sip coffee or water all day, but the fuller your bladder is, the more likely you are to leak or have an accident. Drink no more than 3 or 4 glasses of liquids at work, and limit caffeine.  It's a diuretic, which makes your body produce more urine.

“You can go a little thirsty during work and drink more at home,” Comiter says.

Plan Bathroom Visits

Empty your bladder to avoid problems.

“Void frequently throughout the day – every time you pass a bathroom, if that's not inconvenient,” says Alan J. Wein, MD, chief of urology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

If possible, gradually add 15 minutes to the amount of time between bathroom visits. This will train you to hold urine for long meetings. But act on any feelings of urgency.

“People should be able to train their bladders so they can wait a minimum of 3 hours,” says May M. Wakamatsu, MD, director of pelvic reconstructive surgery and urogynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Build Muscle

Flex and release your pelvic floor muscles to help prevent leaks. This exercise is called a Kegel.

“There's no limit to how frequently you can do them,” Wein says. “You can do them in a car, a bus, at your desk.”

Some people leak when they stand up. To prevent this, squeeze pelvic floor muscles as you stand. This exercise can also help you reduce a strong urge to urinate. Quickly tense and relax the muscles several times.

“That urge should go away,” Comiter says. “Then you can politely excuse yourself and go to the bathroom.”

Wear Dark Clothes

If you're concerned your co-workers might see wet spots on your clothing, wear dark colors that won't show the contrast between wet and dry fabric. This tactic should be a safety net, not a solution to your problem.

“Black or very dark brown work best,” Wakamatsu says. “Some women wear nothing but dark bottoms just in case, but we do encourage women to come in and see if we can help them with their bladder control.”

Does incontinence limit your social life?