The method of treatment depends on the cause and type of incontinence. Surgical treatment is usually reserved for severe or long-lasting incontinence. An artificial pouch for storing urine or stool can be placed inside the body as a substitute for a removed bladder, colon, or rectum. Placement of an artificial sphincter successfully treats other cases. For mild or temporary incontinence, treatment may include medications, dietary changes, muscle-strengthening exercises, or behavioral training, such as establishing a time pattern for voiding. A small group of patients, however, requires a permanent colostomy or urostomy.
Electrical stimulation therapy, which targets involved muscles with low-current electricity, can be used to treat either urinary or fecal incontinence. Biofeedback uses electronic or mechanical devices to improve bladder or bowel control by teaching an individual how to recognize and respond to certain body signals.
Embarrassment may lead some people to manage the symptoms of incontinence themselves by wearing absorbent pads to prevent the soiling of their clothes. However, many treatments exist to successfully restore or improve control of bowel and bladder function, so individuals experiencing incontinence should speak to a doctor or nurse.
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