Clinical Review

Nonsurgical treatments for patients with urinary incontinence

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Primary therapies for UI

Primary therapies for UUI and SUI target strength training of the pelvic floor muscles, moderation of fluid intake, and adjustment in voiding behaviors and medications. Any functional barriers to continence also should be identified and addressed. Simple interventions, including a daily bowel regimen to address constipation, a bedside commode, and scheduled voiding, may reduce incontinence episodes without incurring significant cost or risk. For women suspected of having MUI, the treatment plan should prioritize their most bothersome symptoms.

Lifestyle and behavioral modifications

Everyday habits, medical comorbidities, and medications may exacerbate the severity of both SUI and UUI. Behavioral therapy alone or in combination with other interventions effectively reduces both SUI and UUI symptoms and has been shown to improve the efficacy of continence surgery.11 Information gained from a 3-day bladder diary (FIGURE 2)12 can guide clinicians on personalized patient recommendations, such as reducing excessive consumption of fluids and bladder irritants, limiting late evening drinking in the setting of bothersome nocturia, and scheduling voids (every 2–3 hours) to preempt incontinence episodes.

Weight loss

Obesity is a strong, independent, modifiable risk factor for both SUI and UUI. Each 5 kg/m2 increase in body mass index (BMI) has been associated with a 20% to 70% increased risk of UI, while weight loss of 5% or greater in overweight or obese women can lead to at least a 50% decrease in UI frequency.13

Reducing fluid intake and bladder irritants

Overactive bladder symptoms often respond to moderation of excessive fluid intake and reduction of bladder irritants (caffeine, carbonated beverages, diet beverages, and alcohol). While there is no established definition of excess caffeine intake, one study categorized high caffeine intake as greater than 400 mg/day (approximately four 8-oz cups of coffee).14

Information provided in a bladder diary can guide individualized recommendations for reducing fluid intake, particularly when 24-hour urine production exceeds the normative range (> 50–60 oz or 1.5-1.8 L/day).15 Hydration needs vary by activity, environment, and food; some general guidelines suggest 48 to 64 oz/day.5,16

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