Urinary incontinence – the inability to control the bladder – is a common, embarrassing problem. Symptoms range from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having a sudden and intense urge to urinate that prevents you from getting to the toilet.
It is common for people to experience minor urine leaks on occasion. There are some people who lose urine more frequently, ranging from small amounts to moderate amounts.
Urinary incontinence comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Stress incontinence. You leak urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, or lift something heavy that exerts pressure on your bladder.
- Urge incontinence. Urination occurs involuntarily after a sudden, intense urge to urinate. It is possible that you will need to urinate frequently, including throughout the night. A minor condition, such as an infection, or a more severe condition, like a neurological disorder or diabetes, can cause urge incontinence.
- Overflow incontinence. A bladder that doesn’t empty completely causes you to dribble urine frequently or constantly.
- Functional incontinence. The inability to get to the bathroom on time may be due to physical or mental impairments. You may have difficulty unbuttoning your pants if you have severe arthritis, for example.
- Mixed incontinence. Urinary incontinence presents in more than one form – most commonly, stress and urge incontinence.
It may be uncomfortable for you to talk to your doctor about incontinence. You should seek medical advice if incontinence is frequent or affects your quality of life.
Urinary incontinence may:
- Limit your social interactions and your activities
- Affect the quality of your life negatively
- Increase the risk of falls in older adults as they rush to the toilet
- Provide clues to a more serious underlying condition
Age doesn’t necessarily lead to urinary incontinence, despite the fact that it occurs more frequently with age.
Diagnosis involves physical examinations, urine tests, blood tests and scans. Sometimes, invasive imaging called cystoscopy may be needed.
It is often possible to treat symptoms of urinary incontinence with dietary, lifestyle, or medical
changes. In some cases, further interventions including surgical procedures may be needed depending on the underlying cause.
To discuss diagnosis and treatment options, please book an appointment with our specialist.
To learn more about urine incontinence, please click on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych