Urge Incontinence

urge incontinence

Urge incontinence is defined as the uncontrollable and involuntary loss of urine preceded by an unexpected urge to urinate. Urge incontinence also known as reflex incontinence, spastic bladder or overactive bladder. Urgency incontinence is a sign of an underlying medical problem, not a disease.

Cause of Urge Incontinence

The primary cause of urge incontinence is abnormal bladder contractions. The bladder muscles will contract at the wrong times, leading urine to leak. Ailments that can cause abnormal bladder contractions and urge incontinence include:

  • Infection
  • Bladder Stones
  • Bladder Obstruction
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Nervous System Diseases or Injuries
  • Enlarged Prostate (in men)

Urge incontinence is not age or sex discriminatory, but it is most common in women and the elderly. Risk factors for urgency incontinence include:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Pregnancy/Childbirth
  • Certain Cancers

Urge Incontinence Diagnosis

A physician will attempt to find the cause of your reflex incontinence through a variety of tests and examinations. Physical exams for both men and women will be conducted, but abnormalities rarely show up this way.

A doctor will likely use urinalysis or a urine culture to looking for a urinary tract infection. Other tests include an ultrasound, cystoscopy, a urinary stress test and urodynamic studies.

Treatment for Urge Incontinence

A doctor will advise a course of treatment for reflex incontinence based on the severity of the underlying problem. A doctor will often advise you to make changes in your diet and lifestyle. You likely will be asked to regulate and monitor your fluid intake, and to avoid things that may irritate the bladder like spicy or highly acidic foods, caffeine and alcohol.

Biofeedback is another form of urgency incontinence treatment. Biofeedback helps a patient understand how their body normally behaves. Timed voiding and bladder training are biofeedback techniques specifically designed to treat urge incontinence.

Medication, electrical stimulation and “Kegel” exercises are other conservative forms of urge incontinence treatment. In severe cases, surgery to repair the bladder is an option.