What is incontinence?

Under normal conditions, the smooth muscle of the bladder (detrusor muscle) relaxes and the bladder neck and the urethral sphincter mechanism are closed, which allows the bladder to store urine. During urination, the bladder neck opens, the sphincter relaxes and the bladder muscle contracts.

If closure of the bladder neck is insufficient or the bladder muscle is overactive and contracts involuntarily, urine is accidentally released, which results in a condition called incontinence.

There are several types of incontinence including stress urinary, urge urinary, mixed urinary and overflow urinary incontinence that affect those from being able to participate in normal daily activities.

What causes incontinence?

More than just a medical issue, incontinence also affects emotional, psychological and social well-being. It can be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems, which include:

  • Urinary tract or vaginal infections
  • Effects of medications
  • Constipation
  • Weakness of certain muscles in the pelvis
  • Blocked urethra due to an enlarged prostate
  • Diseases and disorders involving the nervous system muscles (e.g., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury and stroke)
  • Some types of surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Delirium
  • Dehydration
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Overactive bladder
  • Weakness of the muscles holding the bladder in place
  • Weakness of the sphincter muscles surrounding the urethra
  • Birth defects
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Spinal cord injuries

Signs and symptoms of incontinence

The main symptom of incontinence is the accidental loss of urine. Which can range from occasional leakage to saturation of articles of clothing.

How incontinence is diagnosed

Your health care expert will assess your condition based on your symptoms, medical history and a physical exam looking for correctable causes of leakage, including impacted stool, constipation, prostate disease and prolapse or hernias. A urinalysis and cough test will also be performed at the first evaluation.

You may also be scheduled for additional testing such as cystoscopy or urodynamics to provide a more complete picture of clinical diagnosis.

Treatment of incontinence

Depending on a number of different factors including gender and type of incontinence, your health care expert will discuss many care options to help you resume your daily routine, which include:

  • Fluid management
  • Medications
  • Bladder training or pelvic floor exercises
  • Peiurethral injections
  • Sub urethral sling procedures
  • Retropubic colposuspension
  • Bladder neck needle suspension
  • Anterior vaginal repair

The outlook for patients with incontinence is generally favorable, with cure of the symptoms possible, providing that they maintain healthy habits and stay mindful of fluid intake and urinate regularly. Implementation of these care measure will help ensure long-term benefit from these surgical procedures.

Learn more about Urinary Incontinence.

Learn about Urinary Incontinence in men.

For additional questions or concerns, please contact us at (864) 295-2131.