Women who do not have control over their bladder may be suffering from a condition called bladder incontinence. Women who have this condition often experience small amounts of urinary leaks when they move around, cough, or hear the sound of running water. Pregnant women may also experience a strong urge to urinate, and may not be able to control it. This condition may develop into something serious and cause more problems for the body when neglected.
What is Bladder Incontinence?
Bladder incontinence is a condition that makes you lose control over your bladder. Statistics show the condition is more common in women than in men. Around 10-25% of women below the age of 65 and 15-30% of women over 60 who are not in nursing homes suffer from this condition.
Less than half of the women with bladder incontinence seek medical care, as some rely on absorbent pads or lifestyle changes to deal with the condition. In most cases, patients don’t inform their doctor about the symptoms. Women suffering from this condition also feel embarrassed and tend to avoid social gatherings or other events.
A common misconception is that this condition is a normal part of aging and doesn’t have any cure. A range of available treatments is available for bladder incontinence. In fact, doctors can provide proper diagnosis and treatment options that will help alleviate the problem and ease its symptoms
How is This Different from Normal Voiding?
Normal urination, also called voiding, is the natural excretion of urinary waste. Unlike in bladder incontinence, the muscles around the urethra relax and contract normally. This allows the bladder to control the flow of urine.
What are the Different Types of Incontinence?
There are three known types of incontinence: urge, stress, and overflow. The most common among the three is urge incontinence. This condition occurs if the detrusor muscle of the bladder is overactive, leading to excessive leakage of urine.
Stress incontinence, on the other hand, occurs if there is too much pressure inside the bladder than in the urethra. Coughing, sneezing, laughing, or any other physical activity may trigger the urine leakage.
Overflow incontinence occurs if the bladder doesn’t empty during normal voiding, which results in a steady leak of small amounts of urine. This condition is less common than the two, and may only occur when the detrusor muscle is less active.
What are the Symptoms?
- Excessive urinary leaks
- Strong urge to urinate (frequency of urinating more than every two hours or more than six times a day)
- Pelvic discomfort
- Nocturia (urge to urinate during hours of sleep)
- Dysuria (pain when urinating)
What are the Causes of Incontinence?
Doctors often attribute the condition to different causes. These may include urinary tract infection, where the bladder and urethra suffers from problems leading to the infection. Damage to organs may also trigger incontinence. This may occur when the pelvic organs are stretched and damage, causing the supporting organs to sag out of place and weaken the bladder, urethra, uterus, and rectum. Abnormalities in the urinary tract and vagina may also trigger the condition. This may result from childbirth, radiation treatment, pelvic surgery, or advanced stages of pelvis cancer.
How Do Doctors Diagnose the Condition?
Diagnosis may vary depending on the patient’s condition. Doctors may require you to submit a detailed medical history and answer questions related to your voiding habits. Doctors may also record the frequency and amount of urine leaks within 24 to 72 hours. You also need to indicate the amount of water or fluids you take daily, and any activity that might have triggered the condition.
You may also need to undergo a pelvic exam to detect other conditions that might be related to incontinence. These may include physicals, stress tests, cystometry, dye test, and pad test. Any loss of urine during these tests will be recorded and evaluated.
What Treatments are Available?
Treatment may depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Doctors may recommend behavioral treatments to help patients regulate voiding. You may need to conduct pelvic muscle exercises and set the time when you can void to improve control and resist the urge to urinate.
Doctors may also recommend medication to control muscle spasms responsible for the urinary leakage. Other drugs and special devises may also help ease symptoms and strengthen the muscles of your urinary tract. If the condition becomes serious, doctors may recommend a surgery.
Delaying treatment may only cause more problems. While you can rely on pads or adult diapers to soak up the urine leaks, these do not necessarily rid the body of the problem. Consult Dr. Kaye and prevent the condition from worsening. Set an appointment to know which treatment options work best for your condition.