Urge incontinence

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Urge incontinence is the accidental leaking of urine. This type of incontinence usually occurs when there is a sudden, strong urge to urinate and an inability to get to the toilet in time. And some people may leak urine without warning.

Urge incontinence may be caused by a blockage where urine leaves the bladder (such as from an enlarged prostate) or by overactive bladder. Overactive bladder makes a person feel the need to urinate often. But not everyone with overactive bladder leaks urine.

Causes of urge incontinence include age-related changes, diet, medical conditions such as stroke, and the side effects from medicines.

Treatments like pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels), lifestyle changes (like losing weight and managing what you drink), and bladder training are often helpful for urge incontinence. Medicines, including topical estrogen therapy and those that relax the muscles in the prostate and bladder, may also help. In some cases, surgery or other procedures may be needed.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.