Urinary incontinence, or the loss of bladder control, is common in older populations – but it isn’t an inevitable part of aging. At Baptist Health, we help those struggling with urinary incontinence find the treatment they need to regain bladder control in a comfortable, supportive environment.
Though urinary incontinence can affect both men and women, those most commonly affected are women age 50 or older. The risk of developing urinary incontinence can be linked to lifestyle habits such as drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages; eating foods that cause constipation; a lack of physical activity; and smoking. Other causes of incontinence include:
- Weakened pelvic muscles caused by pregnancy, aging, childbirth or menopause
- Urinary tract or vaginal infection
- Bladder nerve damage caused by an injury, stroke or diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
- Prostatitis or enlarged prostate
- Excess weight
Types of Incontinence
There are several different types of incontinence:
- Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence occurs when pressure placed on the bladder due to activities such as exercising, sneezing, coughing, laughing or lifting something heavy. It is the most common type, particularly in women, and can almost always be treated.
- Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence occurs when the need to urinate comes on so quickly you can’t make it to a toilet. It’s common in men and women.
- Overflow Incontinence
Overflow incontinence occurs when urine leaks. It is caused by an overfilled bladder and often occurs in men.
- Functional Incontinence
Functional incontinence is when you have normal urine control, but a disease such as arthritis makes it difficult for you to get to the bathroom in time.
- Mixed Incontinence
Mixed incontinence occurs when two or more types of incontinence are experienced together.
- A Bladder-Training Program With this treatment, the bladder is trained to empty at specific times by urinating on a strict schedule.
- Kegel Exercises For women, kegel exercises can be done to help strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. To do Kegel exercises, tighten the muscles you would use to stop urine flow and hold for a count of 10. Relax for a count of 10. Do this 10 to 20 times, three times a day.
- Medication Medications can help tighten the muscles that control urine flow or help relax the bladder itself. Your doctor may also recommend changing the medicines you take for other conditions as some medications can affect bladder control.
- Weight Loss If you’re overweight, shedding extra pounds may help regain bladder control.
- Incontinence Pads Incontinence pads can be worn to absorb leaked urine.
- Biofeedback Biofeedback treatment uses machines to create pictures and sounds that can identify weaknesses within the pelvic muscles, allowing you to know the areas you need to strengthen.
- Injections Materials can be injected to bulk up the tissue around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder, to decrease the likelihood that urine will accidentally escape.Botox can also be injected into the bladder to help regain control.
- Devices Women can wear devices called pessaries, which are inserted into the vagina and help support the bladder.
- Surgery If other treatments don’t work, or if the incontinence is severe, surgery may be helpful.