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When you really don't want to go

Do you avoid laughing, coughing or exercising in public for fear of having an "accident"? Are you ever suddenly overwhelmed by an uncontrollable urge to urinate, and can't hold it until you find a bathroom?

Urinary incontinence, or bladder leakage, affects millions of people in the U.S. One in three women experience some kind of bladder leakage. Although some women view it as a normal part of aging or childbirth, the reality is that incontinence is not inevitable or something you should just learn to accept.

There are many causes for incontinence; some are simple or short-lived, and a few are more complex. The good news is there are a variety of treatments for incontinence to choose from and addressing the underlying cause of incontinence may reduce or eliminate bladder control problems altogether.

The majority of bladder control problems can be treated by using simple tactics. Depending on the cause of incontinence, I may suggest behavioral training, such as bladder training and timed urination, and pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles.

Lifestyle changes may also help. These include maintaining a healthy weight and looking at possible food allergies. For example, some people with overactive bladders should avoid carbonated drinks, caffeine or spicy foods which can irritate the lining of your bladder.

Some forms of incontinence can be treated by medication, often in combination with behavioral training and exercise treatments. Depending on the type of incontinence, there are also non-surgical, non-medication, home-based pelvic rehabilitation devices that can help eliminate bladder leakage symptoms.

If you have symptoms of incontinence, don't just live with it. Talk with your doctor. He or she will be able to determine the cause, and then help you find the treatment option that works best for your condition and your lifestyle.


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