Some 10 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence. Most of those could benefit from low-cost, relatively simple behavioral treatments, according to psychologist William E. Whitehead.

Whitehead is an associate professor of medical psychology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He spoke on the psychological and social impact of incontinence at a meeting of the American Psychological Association.Based on his research studies, Whitehead advocates simple treatments, such as getting patients to regularize bathroom habits to employing biofeedback technology to achieve better muscle control.

Often, elderly people with incontinence isolate themselves. In addition, bladder and fecal problems are the standard reason many senior citizens are institutionalized. It would be helpful if more people would talk to their doctors about the problem, instead of assuming it is an inevitable problem of aging.

Commercials selling adult-size diapers, which imply that incontinence is to be tolerated rather than treated, haven't contributed to people getting help, Whitehead said.