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8 Ways to Tame Bladder Control Problems

By Rachel Reiff Ellis
WebMD Feature

Bladder control problems aren’t something people like to talk about, but many people have them. Millions of U.S. adults have overactive bladder (OAB). And many of them also deal with incontinence -- the loss of bladder control that leads to leaking.

“They might avoid participating in certain activities for fear they won’t be close to a bathroom and might have an accident,” says Margaret Mueller, MD, assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Most commonly, I hear people say their bladder ‘rules their world.’"

Recommended Related to Urinary Incontinence/OAB

Overflow Incontinence

If you find yourself leaking urine during the day or even wetting the bed at night, you may be experiencing symptoms of overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence is one of several different types of incontinence, the inability to control urination. Overflow incontinence occurs when you are unable to completely empty your bladder; this leads to overflow, which leaks out unexpectedly. You may or may not sense that your bladder is full. The leakage, which can cause embarrassment and discomfort,...

Read the Overflow Incontinence article > >

Take back control with these steps:

1. Take note.

Keep a diary of how often you’re going to the bathroom and everything you’re eating and drinking. Record what time of day you go the most. This information will help you and your doctor get a better picture of what’s going on.

2. Watch your water.

Too much water can make bladder problems worse. But drinking too little can dehydrate you, and that can irritate your bladder. You need to find the right amount for you. It’s different for everyone, but most people need about 48 ounces a day. “I tell patients that they should have at least some yellow in their urine,” says Margie Kahn, MD, associate clinical professor of urology at Tulane School of Medicine.

3. Retrain your bladder.

“Bladder retraining involves learning to ‘hold on’ longer and longer,” Kahn says. Pick a set amount of time to wait between bathroom trips, and then gradually increase it. Slowly, your bladder can learn to hold more urine.

4. Drop a few pounds.

Carrying extra weight puts added pressure on your bladder. Losing weight eases the load on your bladder and the muscles surrounding it.

5. Exercises may help you.

Kegel exercises -- flexing and releasing your pelvic muscles -- can help you hold pee in your bladder longer. But they’re not for everyone. “Sometimes the pelvic floor muscles aren’t weak, in fact, they are just the opposite,” Mueller says. If that’s the case, she says, Kegels could make your bladder problems worse. So check with your doctor first.

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