Incontinence is mainly caused by overactive bladder (OAB) or stress incontinence and refers to the muscles that are responsible for releasing or holding urine. Overactive bladder occurs when urinary muscle spasms cause an immediate urgency to urinate. Stress incontinence, which occurs more often in women, is when urine leakage can occur when coughing or laughing. Incontinence can be a temporary problem, or last long-term.
There are certain factors that can increase the likeliness of incontinence, such as being obese or overweight, a history of multiple pregnancies or even genetic weaknesses. Specific physical conditions that make incontinence more likely also include a history of a hysterectomy, chronic bladder infections, bladder stones, old age or a bladder blockage. There are also specific conditions or diseases that can cause incontinence, such as diabetes, stroke, bladder cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
If a patient suspects that they may suffer from incontinence, visiting your doctor for a physical exam, and proper diagnosis is required. Your physician will inquire about your specific symptoms and medical history to determine a diagnosis. How you void or leak urine may indicate the type of incontinence you suffer from, which your physician will want to determine when deciding on a treatment plan.
Medicines and behavior modification can be used to treat incontinence. Timed urination, performance of Kegel exercises and bladder training are behavior modifications that are most used in treating urine leakage. Often, when both medicine and behavior methods are combined, the patient has a higher risk of long term treatment, as opposed to trying either treatment on its own.
When medicines and behavior modification aren’t effective, some patients opt for urinary incontinence surgery. Before considering surgery, be sure to get an accurate diagnosis and know which type of incontinence you suffer from, as different types require different surgical methods. Often, your primary care provider may refer you to a specialist for surgery or invasive treatment, such as a urologist, urogynecologist or an incontinence specialist. Before deciding on surgery it’s important to know that surgery doesn’t always correct incontinence problems. Additionally, with surgery there are risks and potential for complication. Be sure to discuss your options with your physician so that you may make the proper decision for you.