Patients suffering from urinary incontinence often experience a daily struggle.
Urinary incontinence is caused by factors that are often beyond a person’s control yet can still be effectively treated by modern medicine. It is defined as the loss of the ability to control the starting or stream of urine, and is the result of the involuntary relaxation of the muscles that surround the urethra and allow urine to pass out of the body. This involuntary relaxation may itself be caused by a dysfunction of the spinal nerves that control the urethral muscles.
Urinary incontinence can be mild to severe. It can also be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Urinary tract infections
- Vaginal infections
- Vaginal irritation
- The use of certain medications
It may occur whenever a person laughs, coughs, or sneezes. It can also occur during strenuous exercising or activities.
Overall, urinary incontinence is more common in older individuals than people who are younger. However, it can afflict any person regardless of how old he or she is.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are differing types of urinary incontinence. Women, for example, tend to experience stress incontinence more frequently than men. Stress incontinence occurs from pressure being put on the bladder.
Men, on the other hand, suffer more often from urge incontinence. Urge incontinence is often caused by underlying infections or neurological disorders. It is characterized by a sudden urge to urinate and is sometimes called an overactive bladder.
Functional urinary incontinence stems from a physical or mental impairment, like arthritis. People who suffer from it often cannot get to the bathroom on time.
Overflow incontinence stems from the body’s overproduction of urine. This increased production of urine is more than the bladder can hold and results in leakages. Finally, mixed urinary incontinence is the result of suffering from two or more types of incontinence at the same time.
Treatment of Urinary Incontinence
The type of urinary incontinence from which a patient suffers will largely determine the treatment that is recommended for it. Some of the most common urinary incontinence treatments include:
- Bladder training
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Lifestyle changes, like management of fluid intake or avoiding alcohol use
- Losing weight
- Electrical stimulation
- Medications to relax the bladder muscles
- Topical estrogen to improve vaginal and urethral tissue tone
- Botox injections
- The use of absorbent pads and catheters
Urinary incontinence that does not respond to these treatments may require surgery. UI surgery may involve the placement of mesh to support the bladder. For men, it may involve the placement of artificial urinary sphincters to prevent leakage.