An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of urinary incontinence.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are many types of urinary incontinence. The main types are:
- Stress incontinence is triggered by activities (coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, or lifting) that apply pressure to a full bladder. Stress incontinence is very common among women who have given birth. It can also affect men who have had surgical procedures for prostate disease, especially cancer.
- Urge incontinence, the main symptom of overactive bladder, is marked by an overwhelming and sudden need to urinate. Frequent urination is also a symptom of overactive bladder. There are many causes of urge incontinence, including medical conditions (benign prostatic hyperplasia, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and spinal cord injuries), bladder infections or obstructions, and the aging process. It can also happen for unknown reasons.
- Mixed incontinence. Many people have a combination of stress and urge urinary incontinence.
Treatment of Urinary Incontinence
Treatment options for urinary incontinence depend on the type of incontinence and the severity of the condition. Treatments include:
- Lifestyle Changes. Significant weight gain can weaken pelvic floor muscle tone, leading to urinary incontinence. Losing weight through a healthy diet and exercise is important. Regulating the time you drink fluids and avoiding alcohol and caffeine are also helpful.
- Behavioral Techniques. Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) can help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder and close the sphincter. Bladder training can help patients learn to delay urination.
- Medications. Anticholinergic drugs, such as oxybutynin (Ditropan, Oxytrol) and tolterodine (Detrol), are the medications mainly used to treat urge incontinence. There are other available medications as well.
- Surgery. Many types of surgical procedures are used to correct anatomical problems that contribute to severe urinary incontinence.
The American Urological Association's guidelines for managing overactive bladder emphasize that behavioral therapies and lifestyle changes should be the first treatment approaches.