Urinary Incontinence

Hattiesburg Clinic offers specialized expertise and experience in diagnosing and treating urinary incontinence.

Urinary Incontinence Overview

Urinary incontinence, commonly referred to as bladder leakage or leaky bladder, is a condition that affects both men and women who experience the loss of bladder control. The condition’s severity can range from occasional leakage after laughing, sneezing or coughing to the bladder’s complete inability to hold any urine. It is a common issue that can impact individuals at any age but is more prevalent among older adults, men who have prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate and women during pregnancy, after childbirth or menopause.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are four types of urinary incontinence, each with its own causes and characteristics. Here are the main types:

  • Functional – This is seen when physical or mental impairments like arthritis or dementia hinder an individual’s ability to reach the restroom in time.
  • Overflow incontinence – This occurs when the bladder does not empty properly, or the amount of urine produced is too much for the bladder to hold, leading to dribbling of urine.
  • Stress incontinence – This occurs when there is leakage caused by increased pressure on the bladder due to activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising, leading to leakage of urine.
  • Urge incontinence – This type occurs when patients have a strong, sudden and frequent urge to urinate and are not able to hold it long enough to reach the restroom.
  • Mixed incontinence – Some individuals may experience a combination of more than one type of incontinence.

What Causes UI?

Urinary incontinence can be caused by lifestyle choices, underlying medical conditions or physical issues. It is most common when disease, medication or the onset of an illness causes a change in body function. UI can be a symptom of a more significant medical concern. It is sometimes the first and only symptom of a urinary tract infection. Incontinence can be a symptom of more severe medical conditions like diabetes, strokes and nerve diseases, including multiple sclerosis. These types of diseases can damage the nerves that control the bladder and weaken the “sphincter,” a ring of muscle around the opening of the bladder which prevents urine from leaking out.

Specific causes of urinary incontinence can include:

  • Certain foods, drinks and medications can increase the volume of urine and stimulate the bladder.
  • Issues with the urinary system including urinary tract infections that irritate your bladder causing individuals to have a strong urge to urinate but likely have very little to release.
  • 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 including a tumor or urinary stones can cause urine leakage.
  • Nerve and muscle issues including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, brain tumor or spinal injury can interfere with the nerve signals that impact bladder control.
  • Physical changes including pregnancy, childbirth, age, menopause, enlarged prostate or prostate cancer.

What are the symptoms of UI?

Symptoms of urinary incontinence can vary among individuals. They are also similar to symptoms of other conditions or medical problems. It is important to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and to develop a plan for treatment.

The following are common symptoms of urinary incontinence:

  • Immediate urge to urinate and inability to control it
  • Leakage during exercise, coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Urine leakage that began or continued after surgery
  • Constant feeling of wetness without the sensation of urine leakage
  • Feeling that your bladder is not completely empty after urinating

How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?

For patients who present signs of urinary incontinence, it is important to consult a health care provider who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract. Urinary incontinence can be diagnosed through a physical examination that focuses on the urinary and nervous systems, reproductive organs and urine samples.

Your provider may recommend a series of tests called Urodynamics. These tests provide healthcare providers a detailed look at the bladder’s function. It is used to help diagnose and assess problems, such as incontinence, frequent urination or urinary retention (inability to completely empty the bladder). It measures how much the bladder can hold; how well the signal that tells the bladder it is full is working; 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.

How is urinary incontinence treated?

Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type and underlying causes. The Hattiesburg Clinic urology team offers a variety of treatment options for urinary incontinence.

Recommended treatments may include the following:

  • Bulkamid – For a long-lasting treatment option for stress urinary incontinence, Bulkamid, a urethral bulking agent, may be recommended. This is a procedure that involves 3-4 injections of a water-based gel made directly into the wall of the urethra. The additional volume added to the wall of the urethra helps prevent urine from leaking out of the bladder during everyday activities.
  • Biofeedback – 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.
  • Medications – There are certain medications that can be prescribed to help with symptoms, such as anticholinergic drugs for overactive bladder.
  • Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) – A low-risk, non-surgical treatment plan that is completed 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.
  • Pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation – 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 may involve Kegel exercises to improve pelvic muscle tone. This program can also help our prostate cancer patients who may have incontinence issues due to surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be recommended to address structural concerns or to provide the bladder additional support. Surgical procedures may include a sling or bladder suspension.

What are my next steps?

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that impacts both men and women. It is important for individuals experiencing urinary incontinence to consult with a provider who specializes in urology so that they can conduct a thorough evaluation and provide a customized treatment plan based on the specific type and underlying causes of their incontinence. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, contact the expert urologists at Hattiesburg Clinic. We are here to care for you.

Hattiesburg, MS
Hattiesburg Clinic - Main
415 S. 28th Ave.
1st Floor
Hattiesburg, MS 39401
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Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Picayune, MS
Highland Community Hospital
128 Highland Pkwy.
Picayune, MS 39466
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