The loss of bladder control is commonly referred to as “urinary incontinence.” Urinary incontinence can cause minimal urine leakage, but in more severe cases, a person may experience full bladder release. This is a common and sometimes embarrassing problem, especially among aging individuals, but there are solutions.
If you have any of the following symptoms or a combination of them, you may want to seek medical assistance to discuss treatment options:
- loss of urine when sneezing, coughing, lifting, or exercising (stress incontinence)
- urine that continues to leak after emptying your bladder
- intense urges to urinate followed by involuntary urination
- frequent urination
- a physical impairment that interferes with you making it to the restroom in time
Urinary incontinence itself is a symptom, and usually indicates there is more going on inside your body than simple urination problems. So, talking with your doctor is important.
There are certain external factors that can trigger urinary incontinence temporarily due to increased urine volume, such as:
- medications that may act as diuretics
- caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks
- artificial sweeteners
- acidic, spicy, or sugary foods
Treatable medical conditions which may be going on inside of your body that could cause urinary incontinence are:
- urinary tract infection
In addition, certain physical changes in your body that could cause urinary incontinence are:
- physical changes to the bladder due to age
- a tumor or urinary stones which might block flow
- for women, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, or a hysterectomy
- for men, issues with the prostate gland
- certain neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, brain tumor, or spinal injury
Treatment depends on the cause of incontinence. If your case is mild, your doctor might recommend:
- managing your diet and fluid intake
- a urination schedule
- bladder training
- pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels)
- electrical stimulation or nerve stimulation
- Botox injections into the bladder muscle
- certain medications
- a medical device such as a urethral insert or a pessary
If your incontinence can’t be cured with one of the above treatments, your doctor might recommend pads and protective garments, a catheter, or surgery. There are several surgical options depending on your symptoms:
- sling procedure - A “sling” is created using your body tissue or synthetic material which helps keep the urethra closed.
- bladder neck suspension – A procedure in which sutures are used to provide support for the bladder.
- artificial urinary sphincter - In men, a fluid-filled ring is implanted around the urinary sphincter to keep it shut.