For most people, they can easily put off a trip to the bathroom, but for those who suffer from urinary incontinence, that isn’t an option. While this is a broad topic, this article will look at some of the causes and symptoms, and treatments that are available to those who suffer from an unfortunate, but not at all unheard of, aspect of getting older.
Causes and Symptoms
- Urge Incontinence
This is the most common diagnosis, and it involves an urgent need to urinate that results in the loss of urine before getting to the toilet. This is also called an overactive bladder and may be the result of medical conditions such as strokes, dementia, Alzheimer’s multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or other injuries. Things like pelvic floor atrophy in women, prostate enlargement in men, or constipation in either sex may also contribute to urge incontinence.
- Stress Incontinence
This type happens when an increase in abdominal pressure overcomes the closing pressure of the bladder. Abdominal pressure rises when you cough, sneeze, laugh, climb stairs, or lift objects. Stress incontinence is also more common in women due to pregnancy and childbirth, and a lack of estrogen in postmenopausal women may also cause muscular atrophy that can cause the condition to occur. Men who have enlarged prostates or who have had treatments for prostate cancer or surgery may also develop the condition.
- Overflow Incontinence
Though it is rarely diagnosed, this type of incontinence occurs when someone’s bladder never fully empties. People may often feel the need to go and leak small amounts of urine. The condition itself is often caused from an obstruction in the urinary tract, or from a very weak bladder with weak contractions or no ability to contract at all. Some of the causes can include an enlarged prostate or damage from prostate surgery, constipation, fecal impaction, and nerve damage caused by strokes or diabetes.
Treatments and Management
After a diagnosis is made, treatments for urinary incontinence can include things like behavioral therapy, medications, medical devices, or surgery. Some medications that may be prescribed along with behavioral therapies include:
- Anticholinergic or Antispasmodic Drugs
- Hormone replacement (in postmenopausal women)
- Antibiotics (when incontinence is due to urinary tract infections or, in men, an enlarged prostate)
Other options for women include:
- Urethral Inserts
- Pessary (an intra-vaginal device similar to a diaphragm that supports the bladder)
Surgery for both sexes is also an option, but it is one that should only be discussed after all other options for treatment have been exhausted. Remember that the most important thing you can do, either for yourself or a loved one, is to seek medical help. Also, it’s a condition that is highly treatable, so with the proper and appropriate treatment, your loved one will be able to focus on the things that really matter to him or her. They’ll be able to live life without having to worry about whether or not they can make it to the bathroom in time.