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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Types of Urinary Incontinence and Treatments

Urinary incontinence is a condition where the bladder is unable to store liquids, resulting in involuntary urination. Urinary incontinence occurs in both genders, but it is more common in women. There are several types of urinary incontinence, and they all have different causes and treatments.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence occurs when there is pressure, or stress, on the bladder that causes small amounts of urine to leak. This stress can occur with exercise, sneezing, and even laughter. Stress incontinence is usually caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by age and childbirth, as well as certain medications.

Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence is characterized by a sudden, urgent need to urinate. Urge incontinence could cause large amounts of urine to leak, and sometimes the urge is so sudden that it's impossible to get to the bathroom in time. Urge incontinence is usually caused by nerve damage or by damage to the bladder muscles. Neurological diseases, such as Parkinsons, and long-term drug and alcohol abuse can contribute to the nerve damage that causes urinary incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs when you can't empty your bladder properly causing it to leak, or overflow, when it fills up again. This form of incontinence is more common in men, and can cause varying amounts of urine to leak from the bladder. Overflow incontinence can be caused by an enlarged prostate, weak bladder muscles, and tumors or other structures, blocking the flow of urine.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence occurs when an external influence prevents someone from going to the bathroom in time. These external influences could include mobility issues, impaired motor skills, or mental and cognitive issues. This type of incontinence does not directly affect the bladder, and can involve a variety of ancillary factors including arthritis and traumatic brain injury.

Treatments for Urinary Incontinence

Stress Incontinence

Treatments include exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises or weights,  pessaries that help reduce leakage, and biofeedback monitors. Cases of extreme pelvic floor weakness could require surgery to reposition the bladder.

While the incontinence is active, patients can wear incontinence pads to trap minor leakage. Incontinence pads are similar to menstrual pads but they are designed specifically to deal with the moisture and odor associated with urine. If the leakage is heavy, or it the patient suffers from more than one type of incontinence (or mixed incontinence) adult diapers might be necessary.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is usually treated with medications that prevent the bladder spasms that cause the immediate urge to go. Lifestyle fixes, like bladder training and timed voiding, can be used in conjunction with the medication. Bladder training involves keeping track of when the urge hits and attempting to avoid situations that might cause a spasm. Timed voiding is intentionally emptying the bladder before it has a chance to spasm. As with stress incontinence, patients can wear incontinence pads or adult diapers to avoid soiling their clothing.

Overflow and Functional Incontinence

In some cases, treating the underlying condition – such as removing an enlarged prostate – can correct the condition. If muscle or nerve damage is the issue, surgery or medication could be the solution. For patients with mobility or memory issues, bladder training and timed voiding can help. In either case, protecting the clothing with pads or diapers can have positive psychological effects.

The above entry is a guest blog entry.

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