Urinary Incontinence

Home Obstetric & Gynaecology Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the inability of an individual to have control over his/her bladder thus leading to urine leakage. Although the condition is common, it can be embarrassing. Urinary incontinence affects people of all ages as well as both genders and it mostly occurs as individuals get older. This condition is not limited to just being a medical problem as it can affect your psychological, emotional, and social life as well. Fortunately, you do not have to keep letting urinary keep you from enjoying life because urinary incontinence treatment can solve the problem.

Types and Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

Some of the individuals who suffer from urinary incontinence tend to have minor urine leaks while others may frequently lose minimal to moderate amounts of urine. 

The symptoms usually vary depending on the type of incontinence a person has. Below are the main types of urinary incontinence and the symptoms:

  • Stress incontinence. This is related to physical stress when pressure is exerted on the bladder leading to the leakage of urine. The activities that can trigger it include coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising, or heavy lifting.
  • Urge incontinence. This is when a person feels a sudden, intense urge to urinate and it can be followed by involuntary leakage of urine. The person finds the need to urinate often, even at night time. Urge incontinence can be caused by infection, diabetes, or a more severe neurological disorder.
  • Overflow incontinence. This is when the bladder fails to empty, leading to unexpected constant dripping of urine. 
  • Mixed incontinence. This is when a person experiences more than one type of urinary incontinence at the same time. It is often a combination of stress incontinence and urges incontinence.

Causes

For the bladder to function normally, coordination between the brain, bladder, and spinal cord is required. Urinary incontinence is not a condition on its own but rather a symptom of an underlying disease. It can be caused by everyday habits, an underlying medical condition, infection of the bladder, or a side effect of medication. A medical evaluation by a doctor can help determine what is behind the incontinence. 

There are two main types of causes of urinary incontinence; temporary and permanent.

Temporary urinary incontinence is caused by certain foods, drinks, and medications that may act as diuretics, thus stimulating the bladder and increasing the urine volume. They include:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Spicy and acidic foods and drinks
  • Large doses of vitamin C
  • Blood pressure and heart medications, muscle relaxers, and sedatives

Persistent urinary incontinence is usually caused by an underlying physical problem or changes. These include:

  • Pregnancy: Stress incontinence can be caused by the increased weight of the fetus 
  • Childbirth: Vaginal childbirth can weaken muscles of the bladder, damage the supportive tissue and bladder nerves, leading to prolapse which is associated with incontinence
  • Aging: As the bladder muscle ages, it decreases its capacity to store urine leading to involuntary bladder contractions. 
  • Enlarged prostate. 
  • Prostate cancer
  • Menopause
  • Obstruction: A tumor along the urinary tract can block normal urine flow
  • Neurological disorders can interfere with nerve signals involved in bladder control

Diagnostic Procedures

Diagnosing urinary incontinence involves your doctor taking your personal history and performing a physical exam. You may be asked to do a simple physical activity such as coughing to demonstrate urinary incontinence. 

To confirm the diagnosis, the following tests might be suggested:

  • Urinalysis: A urine sample is examined for traces of blood, signs of infection, or other abnormalities.
  • Bladder diary. The patient records how much they drink, when they urinate, the amount of urine they produce, the urge to urinate, and the number of incontinence encounters.
  • Post-void residual urine measurement. You will be asked to urinate into a container and the urine output will be measured. An ultrasound test will then be performed to check the amount of urine left in your bladder. A catheter can also be put into your bladder to drain the urine left so it can be measured. If there is a large amount of urine left in the bladder, it could mean that there is an obstruction in the urinary tract or a condition with the bladder muscles or nerves.
  • Urodynamic testing. This test involves examining the bladder and urethral sphincter muscle function with an x-ray or inserting a small tube into the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy. This involves checking for abnormalities inside the bladder with a cystoscope.

What types of treatments are available for urinary incontinence?

There are different types of urinary incontinence treatments but they vary depending on the type of incontinence, severity, and underlying cause the patient has. If there is an underlying condition, your practitioner will treat that first. 

The treatment options include:

  • Physiotherapy and behavioral therapy. These include exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles and improve pelvic support to help regain control of the bladder and maintain continence. Monitoring fluid intake and scheduling toilet visits can also be effective in treating urinary incontinence.
  • Medication. These are drugs that aid in relaxing the bladder. 
  • Surgery. This can be done to correct poor bladder support and to completely seal the urethra.

Urinary Incontinence FAQs

Can urinary incontinence be treated without surgery?

Lifestyle changes and/or medications can treat urinary incontinence or stop it altogether without needing to undergo surgery.

Can urine leakage be cured?

With the appropriate treatment, most types of urinary incontinence can be controlled or cured.

What happens if incontinence is left untreated?

If urinary incontinence is left untreated it can lead to anxiety, depression, loss of sleep, and loss of interest in physical and social activities.

Is urine incontinence permanent?

Most of the time urinary incontinence is a short-term issue that can be treated or cured.

Does drinking more water help incontinence?

Not staying hydrated can irritate your bladder and make the urinary urgency, frequency, and leaks worse.

Get an Appointment

Do you suspect you are suffering from urinary incontinence? To be sure about your suspicions you should consult with an expert at Euromed Clinic Center. Our experts will assess you and take you through all the necessary tests and treatments to help you regain your normal life. You can schedule a consultation by filling out the online form or giving us a call.

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