Conditions, Urinary Incontinence

What is Urinary Incontinence?

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine or leaking of urine. It is a common problem, especially among women, and it is estimated that between 3 and 6 million people in the UK alone are sufferers. Severe incontinence increases with age.

23% of women affected by the problem put off seeking help because of embarrassment.

Urinary incontinence is a symptom rather than a condition.

There are different types of incontinence:

  • Stress urinary incontinence: urine leaks out when the bladder is under pressure (coughing, laughing, execise)
  • Urge urinary incontinence: there is a sudden need to pass urine before reaching a toilet, related to overactive bladder
  • Mixed urinary incontinence: a mixture of both stress and urge incontinence
  • Overflow urinary incontinence: urine overflows due to a blockage (more common in men)

What are the causes of urinary incontinence?

The causes of urinary incontinence are different depending on the type of incontinence.

  • Stress urinary incontinence: usually due to weakening of the muscles that prevent urination (the pelvic floor muscles, the urethral sphincter) or a ‘dropped’ bladder (bladder hernia called cystocele), often as a consequence of childbirth.
  • Urge urinary incontinence: overactivity of the bladder muscle (detrusor). See overactive bladder
  • Overflow urinary incontinence: blockage or obtrusion to the bladder outlet (enlarged prostate, constipation, bladder stones) or loss of bladder tone, obesity, diabetes

Common treatments for urinary incontinence

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Bladder training
  • Medication: Anticholinergics and Antimuscarinics, Betmiga, Desmopressin, Alpha Blockers, Tri-Cyclic Anti-Depressants
  • Botox
  • Electrical Stimulation
  • Biofeedback
  • Intravesical Injections
  • Pessaries
  • Catheters
  • Clean Intermittent Self-Catheterisation
  • Surgery: Surgery for a Prolapse of the Bladder (Cystocele), Surgery for an Enlarged Prostate
  • Pelvic floor exercises

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