WHAT IS URINARY INCONTINENCE?
Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common condition in which an individual is unable to control when he or she urinates. This condition may result in leakage or the total inability to hold any urine. Approximately 10 million Americans live with UI, and only about 10 percent of those people seek treatment.
There are three main types of UI:
- Urge incontinence includes a strong, sudden need to urinate. Basically, an individual doesn’t have enough time once he or she experiences this feeling to get to a restroom before urinating.
- Stress incontinence occurs during activities like coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercise.
- Overflow incontinence is when the bladder is unable to empty, leading to dribbling.
Mixed incontinence involves more than one type of these.
WHAT CAUSES UI?
Although UI is not a disease, it can be a symptom of a more significant medical concern. Incontinence is sometimes found to be a symptom of medical conditions like diabetes, strokes and nerve diseases, like multiple sclerosis. Diseases such as these can damage the nerves that control the bladder and weaken the “sphincter,” a ring of muscle around the opening of the bladder. The sphincter keeps urine from leaking out of the bladder.
Some specific causes of urinary incontinence are:
- Issues with the urinary system
- Brain or nerve issues
- Mental health issues, such as dementia, that make it difficult to feel and respond to the urge to urinate
- A blockage in the urinary system
- Nerve and muscle issues
WHO DOES IT AFFECT?
Urinary incontinence can occur in all age groups among both men and women, but it most commonly affects the elderly and women. Pregnant women might experience some leakage from the baby pressing against the bladder and supporting muscles. This typically occurs when the woman coughs or sneezes. It usually goes away within a few months of the baby’s birth. Women who have given birth may also experience this when they get older because of the weakened muscles that support the bladder.
For men, urinary incontinence might occur due to issues from an enlarged prostate gland or prostate cancer. Both of these conditions can obstruct urine flow and result in leakage when the bladder is too full.
Hattiesburg Clinic Urology offers a variety of treatment options for urinary incontinence.
- Urodynamics is a series of tests that gives a health care provider a detailed look at how well the bladder functions. These tests can help to diagnose and assess problems, such as incontinence, frequent urination or urinary retention (inability to completely empty the bladder).
- Urodynamics measures how much the bladder can hold; how well the signal that tells the bladder it’s full works; and how strong the bladder muscle is. These are minimally invasive tests done in our office. The information obtained from these tests can help us prescribe a treatment plan that is right for the patient.
- Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) is a low-risk, non-surgical treatment plan that is done in the office to help calm an overactive bladder. Electrical stimulation is indirectly applied to the nerves that control bladder and pelvic floor function. These gentle electrical impulses can gradually change bladder activity by reducing the urgency and frequency of urination. This treatment is sometimes used as an alternative to oral medications. After a series of PTNS treatments, the patient will be assessed to determine how effective the treatment has been and the provider will determine further care, if needed.
- Biofeedback is a technique used to train patients on how to control certain bodily processes that typically happen involuntarily. In this case, we use biofeedback to help patients gain control over their bladder and strengthen the sphincter muscle.
- Pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation is a physical rehabilitation program that we offer to work with patients to prevent or stop incontinence issues. Through this program, we help patients strengthen bladder muscles in an effort to decrease or prevent urine leakage. This program can also help our prostate cancer patients who may have incontinence issues due to surgery or radiation therapy.