Urinary incontinence is a common condition that occurs when control of the bladder is lost. This can range from minor leakage to unintended complete emptying of the bladder’s contents. Depending on its cause, urinary incontinence can be either a temporary or chronic condition.
There are three types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when certain activities, such as laughing, coughing or exercise, cause the muscles that normally control the bladder to weaken and accidentally release urine. Urge incontinence occurs when individuals routinely feel a sudden urge to urinate, quickly followed by loss of bladder control. Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder does not fully empty during regular urination and dribbles in between regular bathroom visits. Individuals may experience only one type or a mixture.
Urinary incontinence can have many causes and can be a symptom of many disorders. Common temporary causes include pregnancy and childbirth, overconsumption of alcohol or caffeine, some medications, urinary tract infection and severe constipation. Chronic incontinence is more often associated with aging or damage to the urinary tract and its associated muscles. Causes of chronic urinary incontinence include weakened muscles, vaginal prolapse, enlarged prostate, certain cancers, birth defects and nerve damage.
Urinary incontinence is more common in elderly adults and in women. Not all cases are preventable, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of developing this condition.
Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the underlying cause of the condition. DFW Urology Consultants can offer patients medications, urination schedules, and exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Many lifestyle changes can be made to help manage incontinence, including absorbent undergarments and making sure it is easy to get to the bathroom. In certain cases, medical interventions may be available to help treat the underlying causes of urinary incontinence.
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