Urinary Incontinence - Urinary Leakage
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the uncontrollable and involuntary loss of urine that affects more than 10 million Americans. Incontinence can be very embarrassing as it can interfere with a normal, full life. Fortunately, today something can be done about it and in most instances it can be cured completely.
What are the types of incontinence?
There are three common categories of urinary incontinence. These are stress incontinence, overflow incontinence, and urge incontinence. Although all people with incontinence experience a loss of bladder control, each type of incontinence has its own pattern of signs and symptoms. People with stress incontinence leak urine when they cough, sneeze, or laugh. They may be dry at night but leak upon getting up from the bed in the morning. People with urge incontinence wet themselves if they don't get to the bathroom immediately. They get up frequently during the night to urinate. They go to the bathroom constantly. They may wet the bed at night. People with overflow incontinence take a long time to urinate and have a weak, dribbling stream with no force. They dribble small amounts of urine throughout the day and night.
What causes incontinence?
Stress incontinence is due to the loss of the support from the pelvic floor muscles. Commonly the pelvic organs bladder and uterus slip down into the vagina (vaginal prolapse). Overflow incontinence is to either a narrowing of the tube (the urethra) that allows the urine to exit from the body or inability of the bladder muscle to contract and expel the urine from the bladder. Urge incontinence can be a result of bladder irritability such as a urinary tract infection or to neurologic problems in the brain or spinal cord.
How is the diagnosis of urinary incontinence made?
An accurate diagnosis is the essential first step in the treatment of incontinence. The evaluation consists of a medical history followed by a thorough physical exam that includes a pelvic exam and a rectal exam. Certain diagnostic tests such as a urinalysis, urine culture, cystometrogram (bladder pressure test) and cystoscopy (inspection of the bladder with a small lighted tube) are usually required to complete the diagnostic evaluation.
What is the treatment for urinary incontinence?
The treatment for stress incontinence depends on the degree of anatomical abnormality. In mild cases pelvic exercises and/or medication may be all that's needed. However, in more severe cases surgery is the best treatment. The treatment for overflow incontinence may be alleviated with medication or intermittent self-catheterization to drain out the urine. Surgery may be required when the cause is a narrowed urethra or a nerve problem. The treatment of urge incontinence consists of antibiotic medication to treat the infection or medication to relax the irritated bladder.
Urinary incontinence shouldn't take over your life. It is almost always treatable, and often completely curable. Working as a team, we can put you back in control of your bladder and your life. That means you'll be free-free to get a night of uninterrupted sleep, to travel comfortably, to be as active as you want to be. Instead of worrying about embarrassing accidents, you'll be able to do the things you most enjoy.
Reprinted with permission from Dialog Medical, dialogmedical.com
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