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Different types of incontinence have different causes.

  • Stress incontinence can happen when the prostate gland is removed. If there has been damage to the nerves or to the sphincter, the lower part of the bladder may not have enough support. Keeping urine in the bladder is then up to the sphincter alone.
  • Urge incontinence is caused by bladder muscles that squeeze so hard that the sphincter can't hold back the urine. This causes a very strong urge to urinate.
  • Overflow incontinence can be caused by something blocking the urethra, which leads to urine building up in the bladder. This is often caused by an enlarged prostate gland or a narrow urethra. It may also happen because of weak bladder muscles.

In men, incontinence is often related to prostate problems or treatments.

Drinking alcohol can make urinary incontinence worse. Taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs such as diuretics, antidepressants, sedatives, narcotics, or nonprescription cold and diet medicines can also affect your symptoms.

Your doctor will do a physical exam, ask questions about your symptoms and past health, and test your urine. Often this is enough to help the doctor find the cause of the incontinence. You may need other tests if the leaking is caused by more than one problem or if the cause is unclear.

Treatments depend on the type of incontinence you have and how much it affects your life. Your treatment may include medicines, simple exercises, or both. A few men need surgery, but most don't.

There are also some things you can do at home. In many cases, these lifestyle changes can be enough to control incontinence.

  • Cut back on caffeine drinks, such as coffee and tea. Also cut back on fizzy drinks like soda pop. And limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink a day.
  • Eat foods high in fiber to help avoid constipation.
  • Don't smoke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Try simple pelvic-floor exercises like Kegels.
  • Go to the bathroom at several set times each day. Wear clothes that you can remove easily. Make your path to the bathroom as clear and quick as you can.
  • When you urinate, practice double voiding. This means going as much as you can, relaxing for a moment, and then going again.
  • Use a diary to keep track of your symptoms and any leaking of urine. This can help you and your doctor find the best treatment for you.

If you have symptoms of urinary incontinence, don't be embarrassed to tell your doctor. Most people with incontinence can be helped or cured.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 06, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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