Urinary incontinence is the term for losing control of your bladder, and it’s an embarrassing and difficult experience to manage. Not being able to make it to the bathroom before urine leaks out for any reason can affect your self esteem, and your willingness to engage in social activities.
While many may think of it as a condition that mainly affects older people, the American Urological Association estimates that between one quarter to one third of men and women in the US deal with urinary incontinence.
To better understand this condition, let’s look at the causes of urinary incontinence, what types there are, and how you can get help. If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and Greater South Florida areas and you’re having problems with urinary incontinence you don’t have to suffer from it alone, because Drs. Craig Herman, Steven Kester, and the Urology Center of Florida can help.
Millions of Americans deal with incontinence for many reasons.There are numerous foods and drinks that can lead to urinary incontinence, including alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, sparkling water, chocolate, chili peppers, and foods high in spices, sugars, or acids (such as found in citrus fruits). Some medications may also contribute to this condition, such as heart medications, blood pressure medications, sedatives and muscle relaxants.
Physical and medical conditions can also increase the risks of incontinence, such as urinary tract infection (UTI), constipation, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, enlarged prosate, prostate cancer, obstuctions in the urinary tract and various neurological disorders. The bladder muscles may also weaken with age, leading to more frequent involuntary contractions.
These and other factors can lead to one or more of the following types of urinary incontinence:
Stress incontinence refers not to emotional stress but physical stress on your bladder. It’s the most common type of incontinence among women, particularly those who have experienced pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause. These medical events increase pressure on the bladder and lead to involuntary leakage from everyday actions such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting heavy equipment.
Also known as overactive bladder (OAB), people with urge incontinence experience sudden overwhelming urges to urinate. Muscle damage or nerve damage can cause involuntary contractions of the muscular wall of your bladder, which often happen unpredictably.
Men with prostate problems, a blocked urethra or bladder damage are more likely to deal with this variation. With this type, you are not able to hold as much urine as your body makes, which leads to your bladder emptying improperly (dribbling, small amounts of urine leakage after you have used the bathroom).
This type often strikes people with conditions that can prevent them from making it to the bathroom in a timely manner, such as mobility problems (caused by physical or neurological conditions), confusion, or dementia. This type is more common among older people in nursing homes.
Mixed incontinence is a type with a combination of issues from stress and urge incontinence, and patients with congenital problems or an injury to the urinary system may experience total incontinence, leading to uncontrollable leakage of a lot of urine at once.
How we can help
There are several treatments for this condition, and which you receive will depend on the cause and severity of your incontinence:
- Behavioral and exercise treatment: training techniques, like double voiding, scheduled trips and diet managements can help, along with Kegel exercises for your pelvic floor
- Medications: drugs to calm and relax the bladder include anticholinergics and mirabegron (Myrbetriq®) and alpha blockers and topical estrogen can help in other ways
- Devices: several medical devices can help, including electrodes, urethral inserts, pads, catheters, pessaries, nerve stimulators and even Botox injections
- Surgery: surgical treatments like bladder neck suspensions, sling procedures, artificial urinary sphincters and prolapse surgery can help treat incontinence
A combination of treatments may be necessary, and if there is an underlying condition that will require treatment as well.
Urinary incontinence is a condition that can affect your social and personal life, and if you’re dealing with it, we can help. If you’re ready to get your life back from this condition, make an appointment with Drs. Herman and Kester today to get relief.