Urinary incontinence, or the loss of bladder control, is a symptom, not a disease. On a temporary basis, it can be caused by vaginal infections, constipation or certain medications. Persistent urinary incontinence (UI) can be caused by weakness of the bladder or the muscles supporting it, overactive bladder muscles or urinary tract blockage.
There are four types of UI. Stress incontinence happens when certain activities such as coughing, sneezing or laughing increase abdominal pressure on the bladder. Urge incontinence occurs when the need to urinate happens too quickly to get to the bathroom in time. Overflow incontinence involves small amounts of urine leaking from the bladder that never empties completely. Functional incontinence affects people with normal bladder control but who cannot get to the bathroom quickly due to physical limitations such as arthritis that make moving difficult.
Once the cause of UI has been identified, treatment options usually fall into three main categories:
Behavioral techniques require making certain lifestyle changes, such as following a regular toilet schedule. Pelvic floor muscle exercises are recommended to strengthen the muscles below the bladder that control urination.
Medications can be prescribed to treat urge incontinence. These drugs block nerve impulses to the bladder, decreasing the urgency and frequency of urination.
Medical devices or surgery are also available to treat incontinence. Women can use a urethral insert (a small tampon-like disposable device) or pessary (a vaginal insert) to help manage stress incontinence. Commonly used surgical procedures performed to treat UI include sling procedures, bladder neck suspension or artificial urinary sphincter implantation.
UI should not be suffered in silence. Hiding incontinence can lead to rashes, sores, and skin or urinary tract infections. To learn more, take the free, online UI quiz on the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake website at DoctorsHospitalDallas.com/IncontinenceQuiz.
Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake
9400 Poppy Drive
Dallas, TX 75218