Urinary incontinence, otherwise known as bladder incontinence, urine incontinence or UI, is defined as any involuntary leakage of urine. Urine incontinence can sometimes be embarrassing because it involves the partial or complete loss of bladder control.
Symptoms can be as simple as mild leaking or dripping, or be as severe as uncontrollable urination.
A treatable medical condition is typically the underlying cause of bladder incontinence. However, people suffering from the condition often fail to report the issue to their doctors. Urinary incontinence is more prevalent in women, but men battle the issue as well.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
So what causes urinary incontinence? A number of things can lead to it, including:
- Excessive Fluid Drinking
- Excessive Urine Production
- Forms of diabetes
Disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida or a spinal cord injury can also cause urine incontinence. In men over 40, an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer often causes urinary incontinence.
How is Urinary Incontinence Diagnosed?
Visiting an urologist is the best way to diagnose your potential urine incontinence problem. A physical examination will be performed to look for signs that could be behind the problem. Tests to measure the bladder’s capacity are also performed.
Patients may also undergo blood tests, stress tests, urinalysis, ultrasounds, urodynamics, or a cystoscopy to further investigate potential bladder incontinence. Doctors may also ask patients to keep a bladder diary, which is used to record urinary activity throughout the day.
How Do I Treat Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence can be treated in variety of ways. Exercises created to strengthen pelvic muscles are commonly recommended. For women, exercises involving vaginal cones of increasing weight have proven to be effective for urinary incontinence.
Changes in lifestyle are also urged to treat urinary incontinence. If a patient consumes large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis, they likely will be asked to cut back. A doctor may also suggest to consume more or less fluid.
Medications are available to treat urine incontinence. Oxybutynin, tolterodine, and fesoterodine are usually prescribed, but studies question their effectiveness. Side effects of the drugs have also been a concern.
If other more conservative treatments have failed, surgery is a possible and much more involved alternative. Surgeries to help correct bladder incontinence include bladder repositioning and bladder neck suspension surgery.