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Urinary incontinence: treatment, causes, and more

Urinary incontinence: treatment, causes, and more

Apria Editorial |

Urinary incontinence is a condition that occurs when the bladder muscles contract involuntarily, causing urine to leak out of the body. This can happen at any time, and it can be triggered by a variety of factors, including physical activity, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or even just standing up. Urinary incontinence can be a temporary or chronic condition, and it can affect people of all ages and genders.

Definition and Prevalence

Urinary incontinence is defined as the uncontrollable leakage of urine. It is a prevalent condition that impacts thousands of people around the world. According to a study by BMC Geriatrics, the age group and gender with the highest level of urinary incontinence was older women, with a global rate of 37% experiencing this condition. Clearly, urinary incontinence in men is less common than in women, and it is more prevalent in older adults than in younger people, although anyone can suffer from this condition for several reasons.

Importance of Addressing Urinary Incontinence

Incontinence urinary can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It can cause embarrassment, social isolation, and a loss of self-esteem. It can also lead to skin irritation, infections, and other health problems. Addressing urinary incontinence is important for maintaining physical and emotional well-being.

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Understanding the Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are different kinds of urinary incontinence, which are caused by a variety of issues. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress incontinence occurs when the bladder muscles are weakened, causing urine to leak out when pressure is placed on the bladder. This can happen during physical activity, such as running, jumping, or lifting heavy objects.

Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence occurs when the bladder muscles contract involuntarily, causing a sudden and intense urge to urinate. This can happen at any time, and it can be triggered by a variety of factors, including drinking fluids, hearing running water, or even just thinking about urination.

Overflow Incontinence
This type of incontinence happens when the bladder can’t empty entirely which then causes urine to leak out of the body. This can happen when the bladder muscles are weak or when there is an obstruction in the urinary tract.

Functional Incontinence
Functional incontinence happens when a person can’t get to the bathroom fast enough because of physical or cognitive impairments. This is common for those who have mobility issues, dementia, or other conditions that affect their ability to move freely.

Causes and Risk Factors

There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing urinary incontinence, including age-related changes, prostate issues in men, pregnancy and childbirth in women, lifestyle factors, and more.

Age-Related Changes
As people age, the muscles and tissues in the bladder and urethra can weaken, leading to urinary incontinence.

Prostate Issues in Men
Prostate issues, such as an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, can cause urinary incontinence in men.

Pregnancy and Childbirth in Women
Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and can be one of the leading urinary incontinence causes in females.

Lifestyle Factors
Lifestyle factors, such as obesity, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle, can increase a person’s risk of developing urinary incontinence.

Diagnosing Urinary Incontinence
Diagnosing urinary incontinence typically involves a medical history and symptom analysis, a physical examination, and diagnostic tests.

Medical History and Symptom Analysis
A healthcare provider will typically ask about a person’s medical history and symptoms, including when the incontinence occurs, how often it occurs, and how much urine is leaked.

Physical Examination
A physical examination may be performed to check for any physical abnormalities that could be causing the incontinence.

Diagnostic Tests
Diagnostic tests, such as a urine test, a bladder scan, or a cystoscopy, may be performed to help diagnose the underlying cause of the incontinence.

Urinary Incontinence Treatment Options

There are several treatments that those suffering from urinary incontinence can try, such as lifestyle changes, pelvic floor workouts, prescription drugs, and surgical procedures.

Lifestyle Modifications
Lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding bladder irritants, can help reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kegels, also known as pelvic floor workouts, are a common way to help improve the muscles that control bladder function, particularly in women. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles that support the bladder and urethra.

By strengthening these muscles, people can improve their bladder control and reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises are a safe and effective treatment option for many people with urinary incontinence, and they can be done at home without any special equipment or training. It is important to note that it may take several weeks or months of regular exercise to see significant improvement in bladder control.

Urinary Incontinence Medications

Medications can be used to treat urinary incontinence by relaxing the bladder muscles or reducing bladder contractions. Anticholinergic drugs, such as oxybutynin and tolterodine, block the action of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, which sends signals to the brain that trigger bladder contractions associated with an overactive bladder. These drugs alleviate the symptoms of incontinence because they help relax the bladder muscles and decrease the urge to urinate.

Mirabegron is another medication that is approved to treat certain types of urinary incontinence. It relaxes the bladder muscle and can increase how much urine the bladder can hold. It is important to note that medications are not always effective for treating urinary incontinence, and they can have side effects. A healthcare provider can help determine if medications are an appropriate treatment option based on a person's individual needs and medical history.

Surgery for Urinary Incontinence

Surgery is an option for people with urinary incontinence when other treatments have failed. The type of surgery recommended depends on the type and severity of incontinence. For example, bladder neck suspension surgery is used to treat stress incontinence by supporting the bladder and urethra by attaching them to surrounding bone or tissue. Bladder augmentation surgery, on the other hand, is used to treat an overactive bladder by increasing the size of the bladder. Like any surgery, urinary incontinence surgery comes with risks, including temporary difficulty urinating, urinary tract infection, and wound infection ². It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of surgery with a healthcare provider to determine if it is the right treatment option.

Living with urinary incontinence is possible

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort, but there are ways to manage the condition and improve quality of life. By understanding the types, causes, and treatment options for urinary incontinence, people can take steps to reduce their risk of developing the condition and seek appropriate care if needed.


How do you fix bladder incontinence?
The treatment for bladder incontinence depends on the type and severity of the condition. Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, pelvic floor exercises, medications, and surgical interventions. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be recommended. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of each treatment option with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.

What is the best treatment for urinary incontinence?
The best treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the individual's symptoms, medical history, and other factors. Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, pelvic floor exercises, medications, and surgical interventions. A healthcare provider can help determine the best treatment option based on the individual's needs.

Is it possible to reverse urinary incontinence?
In many cases, urinary incontinence can be managed and even cured with appropriate treatment. However, the success of treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition, as well as the individual's overall health. It is important to seek medical advice if you are experiencing symptoms of urinary incontinence.

Can you heal incontinence naturally?
There are several natural remedies that may help reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence, including pelvic floor exercises, dietary changes, and herbal supplements. However, it is important to discuss these remedies with a healthcare provider before trying them, as they may not be appropriate for everyone.

As a leading supplier of durable and home medical equipment (DME and HME), ApriaHome sources and distributes a wide range of treatment solutions, including assistive urinary incontinence supplies and solutions.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Material in this newsletter is only: (1) provided for general health education and informational purposes, and to provide references to other resources; it may not apply to you as an individual. While Apria believes that the information provided through this communication is accurate and reliable, Apria cannot and does not make any such guarantee. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice, evaluation, diagnosis, services or treatment (collectively, "medical treatment"). Please see your healthcare provider for medical treatment related to you and your specific health condition(s). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Reading this newsletter should not be construed to mean that you have a healthcare provider/patient relationship with Apria.