Approximately 25 million American adults experience loss of bladder control, but they often don’t have to. According to the National Association For Continence, 80 percent of those affected by urinary incontinence can be treated. Women are twice as likely as men to experience incontinence; approximately 30 percent of people over the age of 60 have this potentially embarrassing problem.
Incontinence is a symptom, not a disease. On a temporary basis, it can be caused by vaginal infections, constipation or certain medications. Persistent urinary incontinence may be caused by weakness of the bladder or the muscles supporting it, overactive bladder muscles or urinary tract blockage.
Once the cause of urinary incontinence has been identified, treatment options usually fall into three main categories.
Behavioral techniques require making certain lifestyle changes, such as setting up a schedule to go to the bathroom every two to four hours or retraining the bladder to gradually extend the time between bathroom trips. Pelvic floor muscle exercises, also called Kegel exercises, are recommended to strengthen the muscles below the bladder that control urination.
Medications can be prescribed to treat an overactive bladder, or urge incontinence. These drugs block nerve impulses to the bladder, decreasing the urgency and frequency of urination. Men with an enlarged prostate resulting in urinary incontinence may benefit from other drugs called alpha-blockers that relax the prostate and bladder neck, improving urine flow.
Medical devices or surgery also are 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. More than 200 variations of surgical procedures can be performed to treat causes of urinary incontinence.
To learn more about this condition, take the free, online urinary incontinence quiz on the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake website at DoctorsHospitalDallas.com/IncontinenceQuiz.
Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake