Urinary incontinence affects 13 million people in America, mostly older adults. Urinary incontinence is when urine leaks from the bladder involuntarily. It means that the bladder is unable to prevent urine from seeping, which can be due to number of reasons. Urinary incontinence is a very common issue and, although it has the potential to affect anyone, it is more common in older adults. However, the aging process itself does not cause the problem, and it is treatable and preventable. (Read the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Diagnostic Evaluation of Urinary Incontinence in Geriatric Patients for more information.)
Urinary Incontinence Symptoms and Causes
The causes and symptoms of urinary incontinence can vary depending on the person and his medical history. Symptoms can include urine leaking from the body throughout the day, the loss of urine while coughing or sneezing, or feeling the urge to urinate and being unable to make it to the bathroom. In women, incontinence often can occur after childbirth, during pregnancy, menopause or with another gynecological problem. In men, it can occur due to prostate issues such as prostate cancer or having an enlarged prostate. Other causes for incontinence can include diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease, certain medications, damage to the bladder or even types of coffee and tea.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence tends to affect people differently depending on their health background. There are many types of urinary incontinence.
Functional incontinence – This means that the person may lack the proper functions to even reach the bathroom in time because he may have an illness such as Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis that prevents him from moving properly.
Overflow incontinence – This is when the bladder is unable to completely eliminate all of the waste, and it will continue to overflow during the day and cause urine to leak. It usually occurs in people that have weak bladders or bladders that have been damaged.
Urge incontinence – This is one of the most common types of incontinence found in older adults because it happens when a person feels a strong urge to urinate, but the urine leaks as soon as they feel the urge before they can reach the bathroom.
Stress incontinence – This occurs when a person sneezes, coughs, laughs or puts any pressure on the abdominal wall and experiences a leak of urine. This is quite common in women.
Mixed incontinence – This means that the incontinence is occurring for a number of reasons such as an illness and previous damage to the bladder.
Urinary incontinence treatment
As aforementioned, urinary incontinence is a treatable condition, and there are a number of different solutions available.
Medication – There are some medications available that can prevent some types of incontinence. See medications available for treating UI here.
Botox Injections – Botox injections have been proven to be effective in eliminating some types of urinary incontinence if it was caused by certain illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or a stroke. Botox cost varies depending on the part of the country you live in, surgeon fees and the dose needed for a specific treatment.
Kegel Exercises – Kegel exercises can reduce incontinence through the strengthening of the pelvic muscles, and it can reduce incontinence in most mild cases.
Bladder Training – This when the person is trained to use the bathroom at certain times of the day and to stick to a schedule to prevent incontinence.
Surgery – Surgery is not used very often because it is reserved for the most severe cases. A surgeon will alter the pelvic muscles and bladder to give the patient more control and reduce the incontinence.
Although incontinence is common, it is still treatable, and many people have been able to overcome it. Speak with your doctor about your urinary incontinence treatment options.