Urinary Incontinence

Basic Facts

What is urinary incontinence?

If you have urinary incontinence, you have trouble controlling your bladder and leak urine. You may have to urinate so suddenly and forcefully that you’re unable to make it to the toilet on time. Or you may leak urine when you cough or sneeze, or “dribble” urine.  In some cases you may have no warning or sensation of the leakage.

Urinary incontinence (UI) becomes more common as people grow older, but it is not a normal part of aging. It is not something older adults should think they just have to “put up with.” It is treatable. Untreated urinary incontinence can lessen the quality of your life, and also lead to other complications like infections and falls.  Treatment can improve it, and it may not require drugs or procedures. If you have urinary incontinence, don’t feel embarrassed about talking with your healthcare provider about it. Your condition can be managed.

If you are caring for someone with UI, this health problem can make your work more difficult. In fact, family caregivers may be more likely to consider placing a relative with untreated UI in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Don’t be embarrassed to talk with the person’s healthcare provider about it. Getting treatment for UI can often improve the situation significantly.

Updated: December 2017