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By its very nature, urge incontinence, sometimes referred to as overactive bladder ( OAB), can make you feel out of control. You may not be able to make it to the bathroom without peeing when you get an intense urge to go. And you may get this urge just from hearing water running. The result can be discomfort, embarrassment, and anxiety.

Urge incontinence occurs when an overactive bladder spasms or contracts at the wrong times. You may leak urine when you sleep or feel the need to pee after drinking a little water, even though you know your bladder isn’t full. This sensation can be a result of nerve damage or abnormal signals from the nerves to the brain. Medical conditions and certain medications -- such as diuretics - can aggravate it.

Whatever the source, you don't have to feel that your OAB symptoms are beyond your control or that they are controlling your life. In fact, you may be able to take control over them just by making some changes in your everyday behavior. Try these practical tips to get started.

Reducing OAB Symptoms

Eliminating caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can greatly reduce the symptoms of urge incontinence, because all three irritate the bladder. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes you to urinate more. Cutting out the big three can be tough. Try these strategies:

  • If you need help to quit smoking, ask your doctor about smoking-cessation groups or programs.
  • Since caffeine is in coffee, teas, colas, energy drinks, and chocolate, you may find it hard to go cold turkey. Try cutting out caffeine slowly. Wean yourself over the course of a week or two until you’re completely caffeine-free.
  • If you don’t want to cut out alcohol completely, limit yourself to one beverage a day.

Incontinence Coping Tips

How to keep inconvenience and embarrassment to a minimum
View slideshow