Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control urination. It affects more than 13 million people of all ages in the United States. It is more common in the elderly and women.

Incontinence is classified as either stress incontinence (caused by coughing, laughing, sneezing), urge incontinence (losing urine when suddenly feeling the urge to urinate), overflow incontinence (continually leaking urine), functional incontinence (in people with a brain injury), or transient incontinence (temporary incontinence). Treatment is highly effective in more than 80 percent of cases. Exercise and behavioral therapies are most successful.

Signs and Symptoms

What Causes It?

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your health care provider will give you a physical examination and may ask you some questions about your past prostate problems, pregnancy, hysterectomy, your pattern of urinating, when your urine leakage occurs, and whether you strain or experience discomfort when you urinate. You may be asked to cough vigorously to see if it causes urine loss, a sign of stress incontinence.

Your provider may suggest urine tests to detect infection, urinary stones, diabetes, and other underlying causes. A pelvic ultrasound may be performed to examine your bladder, kidneys, and urethra.

Treatment Options

Several types of drugs are available to help muscle control. Surgery is also helpful, particularly in women with stress incontinence and for men with an enlarged prostate. Various other options exist as well, such as catheters, urethral plugs, condom catheters, and absorbent pads or underwear.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies mainly involve Kegel exercises, biofeedback, and preventing any conditions that worsen incontinence. Yoga may help as well.

Nutrition Herbs
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.

Urinary astringents tone and heal the urinary tract and can be taken long-term at 1 cup per day or 30 drops tincture per day. Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is a urinary demulcent, best used alone in a cold infusion. Soak 1 heaping tbsp. of marshmallow root in 1 qt. of cold water overnight. Strain and drink during the day in addition to other teas. Homeopathy
Some of the most common remedies used for urinary incontinence are listed below. Usually, the dose is 3 to 5 pellets of a 12X to 30C remedy every one to four hours until your symptoms get better. Acupuncture
May help, depending on cause of the incontinence

Following Up

Exercise and behavioral therapy are highly successful when closely adhered to. You may need close monitoring by your health care provider and support from someone close to you to stay committed to these lifestyle changes.

Special Considerations

If you are pregnant, consult with your provider before taking any medication. For men, regular prostate examinations can detect problems early.


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