Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence
The loss of bladder control leads to unintentional leakage of urine, also termed as urinary incontinence. Most people are under the impression that urinary problems are common only in old people. However, research suggests that almost one-third of men and women in the country experience urinary incontinence, out of which 80% of patients are women.
There are twice as many cases of urinary incontinence in women than in men because both the genders have unique reproductive systems. Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause affect the urinary tract which tends to damage and weaken the bladder, urethra, and muscles surrounding the urinary tract.
People are often embarrassed to talk about bladder leakage problems, because of which they may not get the right treatment. They open up to the doctor only when the problem becomes too severe to handle. One need not feel depressed or ashamed as men and women of all ages face urinary incontinence. Luckily, many treatment options are available for it.
Cause of bladder leakage
Bladder leakage can occur because of a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of this problem:
- Stress on the urinary system: Urine may leak when more pressure is applied to the bladder while coughing, laughing or sneezing.
- Urge: If one feels a sudden urge to empty the bladder, it usually leads to an involuntary leakage of urine.
- Overactive bladder: In this situation, a person feels the urge to urinate all the time, sometimes more than eight times a day.
Different types of treatments for bladder leakage problems
If you have urinary incontinence, then it’s best to consult a urologist who treats urinary problems in both men and women. Women can also talk to a urogynecologist who specializes in the female urinary system. One’s choice of treatment for bladder leakage problems will depend on many factors such as the patient’s age, cause, and severity of urinary incontinence.
- Change in lifestyle: Making simple changes in one’s lifestyle can bring relief to people with bladder leakage problems. If one is facing urinary incontinence due to stress, then the doctor may advise you to reduce your intake of alcohol. However, if you have the urge to urinate and are unable to control it, then you will be advised to reduce the intake of caffeine and spicy food too.
- Regular exercise: Kegel exercises work on the pelvic muscles which control the flow of urine. Doing pelvic floor muscle exercise strengthens the muscles, thus regulating urine leakage.
- Change in diet: The constant intake of foods rich in magnesium, fiber, and calcium can reduce the risk of bladder leakage.
- Reduce weight: If an individual is overweight, and have excess belly fat, then they must realize that this fat may put pressure on their bladder, increasing the chances of urinary incontinence. Thus, in such a case, one can control their weight to gain control over their bladder.
- Bladder training: It is the process of slowly increasing the interval between the urge to urinate and passing urine. In some cases, this results in a drastic reduction in the number of times a person urinates.
- Electric simulation: An electric current is passed via a probe into the vagina in women and anus in men, which helps to reduce the urge to urinate and also strengthens the pelvic floor muscle. It is an effective treatment option for bladder leakage problems.
- Biofeedback: A medical professional inserts a probe into the vagina in women and the anus in men. A wire connected to this probe is linked to a screen. You can now look at the screen to understand how your bladder responds and learn to control it.
Medications for bladder leakage
Today, various medications can be used to treat bladder leakages:
- Anticholinergics: This drug soothes an overactive bladder and reduces the urge to pass urine.
- Botox injection: Botox injected into the bladder muscle benefits people with an overactive bladder. Doctors might advise patients to repeat these injections once or twice a year.
- Mirabegron: This medication increases the urine holding capacity of your bladder.
- Estrogen: It is available in the form of a vaginal cream or ring. Its usage renews tissues in the urethra and vaginal areas, thus reducing urinary incontinence to a certain extent.
If the non-surgical methods fail to give you relief, you can treat the problem of bladder leakage by undergoing surgery.
- Sling procedure: A sling made out of mesh is inserted under the neck of the bladder to keep the urethra closed and stop urine from leaking out.
- Artificial urinary sphincter: This is a treatment option for men who are facing bladder leakage problems. An artificial sphincter or valve is implanted around the bladder neck to control the flow of urine from the bladder into the urethra.
- Bladder neck suspension: When non-surgical methods like medication or exercise fail, one can opt for this surgery to lift and support the neck of the bladder to help stop the leakage of urine.
If treatments do not eliminate the bladder leakage problem completely, doctors might advise patients to try out the following options:
- Catheter: A soft tube or catheter must be inserted into the urethra whenever one wants to empty their bladder. Patients can reuse the same tube several times after cleaning it.
- Pads: A wide range of absorbent pads are available at pharmacies. They are not bulky and can be worn every day.
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