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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Urinary Incontinence (Holistic)
Urinary incontinence is loss of bladder control resulting in leakage of urine. There are two main types of urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs during laughing, coughing, sneezing, exercising, or other types of physical straining, when abdominal pressure from these activities overcomes weakened urinary tract and pelvic floor muscles that normally prevent leakage. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, occurs when bladder or other urinary muscles contract inappropriately. Mixed incontinence refers to a condition that has features of both stress and urge incontinence.1
Women are twice as likely as men to experience urinary incontinence, and older people are also more susceptible to the condition. Stress incontinence is often related to pregnancy- and childbirth-related and age-related loosening of urinary tract tissues, but can also result from surgery or trauma to pelvic tissues. Urge incontinence can result from nerve damage due to stroke and other neurological diseases but often has no apparent cause.2
The influence of diet on the risk of urinary incontinence is unclear. One preliminary study of men reported that eating more potatoes increased the risk while more beer consumption reduced the risk of overactive bladder. A similar study of women reported increased risk of overactive bladder from higher carbonated drink intake, and lower risk with increased consumption of vegetables, bread and chicken. Risk of stress incontinence in women has been linked with higher intake of carbonated drinks and fat, and lower consumption of bread.
Higher consumption of coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages has been associated in with increased risk or severity of urinary incontinence, which could be due either to effects of higher fluid accumulation in the bladder or to effects of caffeine on bladder muscle contractions. A controlled trial found that restricting caffeine to less than 100 mg per day reduced some symptoms of urinary incontinence. Another controlled study reported that fluid restriction was effective for reducing urinary incontinence symptoms, but that simply switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated beverages was not. Other studies have not found a significant effect of changing either caffeine or fluid intake.
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1. Santiagu SK, Arianayagam M, Wang A, Rashid P. Urinary incontinence-pathophysiology and management outline. Aust Fam Physician 2008;37:106-10.
2. Santiagu SK, Arianayagam M, Wang A, Rashid P. Urinary incontinence-pathophysiology and management outline. Aust Fam Physician 2008;37:106-10.
3. Bump RC, McClish DK. Cigarette smoking and urinary incontinence in women. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1992;167:1213-8.
4. Koskimaki J, Hakama M, Huhtala H, Tammela TL. Association of smoking with lower urinary tract symptoms. J Urol 1998;159:1580-2.
5. Shamliyan T, Wyman J, Bliss DZ, et al. Prevention of urinary and fecal incontinence in adults. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2007;161:1-379 [review].
6. Jiang K, Novi JM, Darnell S, Arya LA. Exercise and urinary incontinence in women. Obstet Gynecol Surv 2004;59:717-21 [review].
7. Townsend MK, Danforth KN, Rosner B, et al. Physical activity and incident urinary incontinence in middle-aged women. J Urol 2008;179:1012-6.
8. Danforth KN, Shah AD, Townsend MK, et al. Physical activity and urinary incontinence among healthy, older women. Obstet Gynecol 2007;109:721-7.
9. Wolin KY, Luly J, Sutcliffe S, et al. Risk of urinary incontinence following prostatectomy: the role of physical activity and obesity. J Urol 2010;183:629-33.
10. Hunskaar S. A systematic review of overweight and obesity as risk factors and targets for clinical intervention for urinary incontinence in women. Neurourol Urodyn 2008;27:749-57 [review].
11. Hunskaar S. A systematic review of overweight and obesity as risk factors and targets for clinical intervention for urinary incontinence in women. Neurourol Urodyn 2008;27:749-57 [review].
12. Subak LL, Richter HE, Hunskaar S. Obesity and urinary incontinence: epidemiology and clinical research update. J Urol 2009;182(6 Suppl):S2-7 [review].
13. Subak LL, Wing R, West DS, et al. Weight loss to treat urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women. N Engl J Med 2009;360:481-90.
14. Brown JS, Wing R, Barrett-Connor E, et al. Lifestyle intervention is associated with lower prevalence of urinary incontinence: the Diabetes Prevention Program. Diabetes Care 2006;29:385-90.
Last Review: 05-24-2015
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