Urinary incontinence, or bladder leakage, is the uncontrollable leaking of urine. Although many people believe that urinary incontinence is simply a part of aging, this is not the case and there are several treatments available to solve this problem. In women, urinary incontinence is usually due to pregnancy and delivery (whether vaginal or by cesarean section), and multiple births increase the risk.
However, urinary incontinence is not a medical disorder, rather it is a symptom of various medical conditions. There are four main forms of urinary incontinence:
- Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI): occurs when the pelvic muscles are too weak to hold in urine and is most commonly seen in older women.
- Overactive Bladder (OAB): occurs when the brain tells the bladder to empty even when it is not full, causing a frequent and sudden urge to urinate. It is commonly seen in post-menopausal women and men with prostate problems.
- Mixed Incontinence: the occurrence of both SUI and OAB.
- Overflow Incontinence: occurs when there is too much urine produced or the bladder cannot properly empty urine due to a blockage or inability to contract the bladder muscle.
Did You Know?
About one quarter to one third of American men and women are affected by urinary incontinence. Men are more likely to develop urinary incontinence if they have prostate problems, while women are more likely to develop problems if they have undergone pregnancy and childbirth.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?
There are different symptoms or urinary incontinence, depending on the type of incontinence. Some cases of urinary incontinence, such as those associated with vaginal or urinary tract infections are only temporary.
The main symptom of SUI is urine leaking during periods of activity. With OAB, the primary symptom is an immediate, strong urge to urinate. Mixed SUI/OAB includes both of those aforementioned symptoms. Finally, the main symptom of overflow incontinence is the constant dribbling of urine.
How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?
To diagnose urinary incontinence, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They may also have you fill out a questionnaire asking about your symptoms and may perform a physical examination. To rule out infection or to check for any abnormalities, you may be required to provide a urine sample. You may also be asked to urinate into a container and then have your bladder immediately checked via catheter or ultrasound to determine how much urine is left in the bladder.
What treatments are available for urinary incontinence?
The treatment for urinary incontinence will depend upon the underlying cause. In some cases, behavior changes can alleviate symptoms. These include doing Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing and properly timing fluid intake, double urination, scheduled bathroom breaks, wearing absorbent pads, and bladder training. Certain medications may also be used, especially if you have mixed incontinence.