The medical term urinary incontinence refers to the circumstance an individual suffers when unable to control his/her bladder. Many people wear incontinence panties and incontinence briefs with special pads or disposable adult underwear to prevent embarrassment, should there be a mishap.
Urinary incontinence is not considered a disease; it is a symptom. While it is true that over time the muscles in the urethra and bladder become weaker, and the bladder decreases in size, this symptom is not normal at any age. There are several kinds of incontinence, including overactive bladder, stress incontinence, among others.
When a physician is unable to identify the cause of a person experiencing the sudden urge to urinate combined with the inability to reach the bathroom in time, it is referred to as non-obstructive urinary retention, or overactive bladder.
There are many reasons you may have an overactive bladder. Some of the known causes include:
Overhydration – especially at bedtime
Urinary tract infections
Bowel problems – including constipation
Bladder irritants – tea, coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks
Injuries and damage to the nervous system caused by a stroke
Diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
Stress incontinence is described as urine leakage when there is added pressure inside the abdominal cavity.
This pressure could be caused from:
Your physician may refer you to an urogynecologist, which specializes in the treatment of women; whereas, a urologist specializes in both men and women.
According to Dr. Megan Tarr, who is an OBGYN specialist in Urogynecology at the Women’s Health Institute in Cleveland, the treatments used vary.
Initially, an overactive bladder is treated using:
Urethral bulking agents – these are injections that increase firmness
Continence pessaries – this device is similar to a diaphragm. The physician inserts it into the vagina
Non-Surgical Treatment Methods
There are numerous treatments that your physician can prescribe to help you.
These treatments include:
Exercise with biofeedback
Minimally Invasive Procedures
There are some minimally invasive procedures that can be used as well.
These procedures include:
Injectable bulking agents
Specialized devices for bladder control
The most common medications prescribed include:
Sometimes, according to Dr. Tarr, a physician injects botulinum toxin (Botox®) directly into the bladder wall to treat more severe cases of urinary incontinence.
The sling procedures are the most common surgeries used to treat this symptom. These procedures help keep your urethra closed when you sneeze or cough. The sling compensates for the nerve and muscle damage by supporting your bladder neck and urethra. There are several variations used in these procedures.
The Bladder Neck Suspension Procedure
The bladder neck suspension procedure is also used to offer support to your bladder and urethra. It keeps them from sagging. Your surgeon places sutures near the top of your bladder’s neck and near your pelvic bone.