Nerve Disease and Bladder Control
For the urinary system to do its job, muscles and nerves must work together to hold urine in the bladder and then release it at the right time. Nerves carry messages from the bladder to the brain to let it know when the bladder is full. They also carry messages from the brain to the bladder, telling muscles either to tighten or release. A nerve problem might affect your bladder control if the nerves that are supposed to carry messages between the brain and the bladder do not work properly.
What bladder control problems does nerve damage cause?
Nerves that work poorly can lead to three different kinds of bladder control problems.
Overactive bladder. Damaged nerves may send signals to the bladder at the wrong time, causing its muscles to squeeze without warning. The symptoms of overactive bladder include
Poor control of sphincter muscles. Sphincter muscles surround the urethra and keep it closed to hold urine in the bladder. If the nerves to the sphincter muscles are damaged, the muscles may become loose and allow leakage or stay tight when you are trying to release urine.
Urine retention. For some people, nerve damage means their bladder muscles do not get the message that it is time to release urine or are too weak to completely empty the bladder. If the bladder becomes too full, urine may back up and the increasing pressure may damage the kidneys. Or urine that stays too long may lead to an infection in the kidneys or bladder. Urine retention may also lead to overflow incontinence.
What causes nerve damage?
Many events or conditions can damage nerves and nerve pathways. Some of the most common causes are
In addition, some children are born with nerve problems that can keep the bladder from releasing urine, leading to urinary infections or kidney damage.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/2/2014
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