What causes urge incontinence and how can you live better with it?
If you sometimes have an intense urge to go to the bathroom to urinate (and you sometimes leak before you get there) then you could have urge incontinence. To be sure, you’ll need to make an appointment to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare professional. They will listen to your symptoms and may conduct a few tests to discover more about the issue. Once you’ve got a diagnosis, your healthcare professional can direct you to urge incontinent treatments that can improve your quality of life. But what exactly is urge incontinence, and what are the most common causes? Keep reading for our quick and simple guide to a condition that affects millions of people around the world.
What is the definition of urge incontinence?
The clue is in the name! Urge incontinence is when you have an intense urge to go to the bathroom and you sometimes leak before you get there.
What are the most common causes of urge incontinence?
There are many possible causes of urge incontinence, including:
- Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Conditions that affect the nervous system and therefore the communication between the brain and bladder, for example a stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or a spinal cord injury
- Certain medications such as anti-depressants, sedatives, diuretics, or muscle relaxants
- Urinary tract infections or conditions affecting the lower urinary tract
What treatments are available for urge incontinence?
Common first-line treatments for urge incontinence include lifestyle changes and behavioural treatments. The main behavioural treatment for urge incontinence involves bladder ‘retraining’, which basically means trying to change your bathroom habits. In addition, your healthcare professional may recommend pelvic floor exercises, which can give good results for people with urge incontinence. You can watch a film on how to do these exercises (they are different for men and women), here. Pessaries are also another first-line option to treat urge incontinence.
If these treatments are not successful, your healthcare professional may recommend a more advanced treatment for urge incontinence, such as medication or surgery. For urge incontinence, sacral nerve modulation could be an effective option. This involves placing a small device into the lower back, next to the sacral nerve. The sacral nerve is involved in emptying the bladder, so by stimulating this with an electrical current, it is possible to restore the bladder to a healthier function. The procedure can also be reversed, and the device removed, if required.
Is urge incontinence the same thing as an overactive bladder (OAB)?
Not necessarily. There are various types of urinary incontinence, and having an overactive bladder is one of them. With OAB, people feel an intense desire to visit the bathroom more than is ‘usual’. This is closely related to urge incontinence, when people leak urine without wanting to. Whist the two conditions can occur together, it is possible to have one without the other.
We hope the above has helped you to better understand the causes and treatments of urge incontinence. Now, we urge you to go speak to a healthcare professional and discuss your symptoms!
We can’t wait for you to join our community.
Until next time!
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