Urinary incontinence is a potentially chronic condition that affects countless adults.
The loss of bladder control is a common issue that often occurs as people grow older but isn’t necessarily a consequence of aging. It can occur when someone coughs or sneezes, or it can manifest as a sudden, strong urge to urinate when someone doesn’t have time to get to a restroom.
There are several different types of urinary incontinence, including:
- Urge incontinence – The need to urinate comes on suddenly and the bladder empties involuntarily.
- Mixed incontinence – This describes a patient suffering from more than one type of incontinence.
- Stress incontinence – Urine leaks occur when pressure is put on the bladder through coughing, sneezing or laughing.
- Overflow incontinence – The bladder doesn’t empty completely, leading to constant leaking.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is much more common in women than men, and it can be temporary or chronic. Some common causes of temporary incontinence include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Medication side effects
- Coffee or alcohol consumption
- Chronic constipation
Long-term urinary incontinence can result from:
- Pelvic floor disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Enlarged prostate
- Damage to the sphincter muscle during prostate cancer surgery
Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence
An individual who is suffering from urinary incontinence may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Frequent urination
- Waking up several times each night to urinate
- Urination during sleep
- Urine leaks when coughing, sneezing, exercising, laughing or lifting heavy objects
- Sudden urges to urinate
Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence
An individual’s first step in diagnosing urinary incontinence is having a conversation with their doctor about their symptoms and medical history. This can help determine a pattern or lifestyle change that may be contributing to the condition.
After performing a physical exam, the physician may recommend one or more tests, including:
- Urinalysis to test for infection
- A bladder ultrasound to assess its functionality
- A stress test to look for urine leakage
- A cystoscopy to inspect the urinary tract
- A urodynamic test to determine the capacity of the bladder and the functionality of the urethral sphincter muscle
Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
The recommended treatment for urinary incontinence will depend on the causes of the issue and the affect it is having on the individual’s quality of life. Lifestyle changes are an important part of any treatment plan for anyone experiencing male or female urinary incontinence, and there also are a variety of medications that might help. For more chronic cases, there are procedures ranging from injections to surgery that may help.