What is urinary incontinence?
Many people experience involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. This condition is called urinary incontinence. It affects nearly a quarter to a third of men and women in the United States. That is millions of Americans.
Urinary incontinence is the leaking of urine from the bladder that you can’t control. There are different kinds of urinary incontinence, and not all types are permanent. An experienced doctor can help you find the best treatment for your urinary incontinence.
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is when the muscles aren’t strong enough to hold urine in the body. SUI shows itself through physical symptoms, including involuntary leaking of urine through the bladder when active.
In some cases, people experience a combination of both SUI and OAB. This shows itself through physical symptoms. If this is the case for you, you will find involuntary leaking of urine through the bladder and strong sudden urges to urinate that you can’t control.
Overflow incontinence is when the bladder isn’t able to empty itself completely. Overflow incontinence shows itself through physical symptoms, including constant dribbling of small amounts of urine when the bladder is full.
These symptoms are not just physical. Urinary incontinence has emotional and psychological effects, too.
Diagnosis for urinary incontinence
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose urinary incontinence. The best treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the underlying cause and the type of urinary incontinence you have. To determine a diagnosis, your doctor may have you undergo a physical exam and complete other tests.
You will record how much you drink and urinate each day and whether you experienced bladder leakage or a strong desire to urinate.
Post-void residual measurement
Your doctor will ask you to urinate into a container. The doctor checks the amount of urine left in your bladder using ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves used to make a picture of the inside of the body). The doctor can help determine if you have an obstruction in your bladder or a problem with your bladder or nerves.
Treatments for urinary incontinence
Healthcare providers can help find the best treatment for urinary incontinence. There are many different options available such as:
If you have urinary incontinence, your provider might prescribe a catheter (a flexible tube placed inside the bladder.) A balloon holds the tube inside your bladder. The catheter drains urine out of the bladder into a bag outside the body.
Urine drainage bags
If you have urinary incontinence, your provider might prescribe a urine drainage bag to help collect urine coming out of the bladder. You can hide it under clothing and strap it to your leg. Your doctor can help you find a urine drainage bag that’s the right size for you and feels comfortable to wear.
Catheters for intermittent catheterization
Your doctor may recommend a catheter that you don’t have to wear all the time. Instead, you or your healthcare provider can insert and remove clean catheters 3 to 5 times a day. This helps decrease the chance of infection.
Some providers may recommend that you use adult pads or adult diapers. These products help absorb urine leaking from the bladder, which helps protect your skin and clothes. You have the option of purchasing absorbent products that you throw away after each use, or you can purchase reusable products.
Some people who experience urinary incontinence may have concerns about getting to a toilet in time. Toilet substitutes like commodes (portable toilets) can provide convenience and peace of mind.
Skin care products
Some people who experience urinary incontinence may have rashes or irritated skin. Using disposable wipes and wash cloths instead of only using toilet paper can help keep your skin clean and healthy.
Possible complications and side effects
There are also possible complications of the products used to treat urinary incontinence. If you use catheters, a urinary tract infection is a common infectious risk. About 60% of people who use catheters in a hospital also report at least one noninfectious complication in the next 30 days, including:
- Pain or discomfort
- Leaking urine
- Bladder spasms
- Blood in the urine
- Trauma to the skin around where the catheter was
If your doctor prescribed you any medications, they may also have side effects. Consult your healthcare provider about possible complications of any medications or products you use for treatment for urinary incontinence.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Family Physician: "Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence."
JAMA Internal Medicine: "Patient-Reported Complications of Urinary Catheters."
Urology Care Foundation: "Urinary Incontinence."
Top Best Treatment for Urinary Incontinence Related Articles
Can Urinary Incontinence Be Reversed?Urinary incontinence can happen to anyone and the severity varies depending on the age, cause, and type of urinary incontinence. Most cases of urinary incontinence can be cured or controlled with appropriate treatment.
Gemtesa (vibegron)Gemtesa (vibegron) is a prescription medicine for adults used to treat the symptoms of a condition called overactive bladder. Gemtesa may cause serious side effects, including the inability to empty your bladder (urinary retention). Common side effects of Gemtesa include urinary tract infection, nasal congestion, sore throat or runny nose, nausea, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, and diarrhea.
There are many types of urinary incontinence (UI), which is the accidental leakage of urine. These types include stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. Urinary incontinence in men may be caused by prostate or nerve problems. Treatment depends upon the type and severity of the UI and the patient's lifestyle.
Urinary Incontinence in ChildrenUrinary incontinence in children (enuresis) is twice as common in boys as in girls and may occur during the daytime or nighttime. Nighttime urinary incontinence is also called bedwetting and sleepwetting. The cause of nighttime incontinence in children is unknown. Daytime incontinence in children may be caused by an overactive bladder. Though many children overcome urinary incontinence naturally, it may be necessary to treat incontinence with medications, bladder training and moisture alarms, which wake the child when he or she begins to urinate.
Incontinence in MenMale urinary incontinence has a variety of causes and treatments. Learn about bladder incontinence surgeries, medications for male incontinence, and how prostate health is linked to urges and leaks. Understand common types like stress and urge incontinence.
Urinary Incontinence in WomenMillions of women suffer from urinary incontinence (UI). UI occurs twice as often in women as in men. There are many types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overactive bladder, functional incontinence, overflow incontinence, transient incontinence, and mixed incontinence.
Incontinence in WomenUrinary incontinence in women is a common problem. Overactive bladder (OAB), stress incontinence, and urge incontinence can be treated. Learn more about the types of urinary incontinence, their symptoms, and treatment options.
Foods that Make You GoWhat causes overactive bladder (OAB)? A natural remedy is to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and these foods. Learn the foods and drinks to avoid. Urinary incontinence can be stimulated by soda and fizzy drinks. These are foods and beverages that irritate your bladder.
Urinary Incontinence Products for MenThere are many types of urinary incontinence (UI), which is the accidental leakage of urine. These types include stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. Urinary incontinence in men may be caused by prostate or nerve problems. Treatment depends upon the type and severity of the UI and the patient's lifestyle.
Urinary Incontinence QuizWhat is urinary incontinence and why do people develop it? Learn all you need to know with this quiz.
What Are 4 Types of Urinary Incontinence?What is urinary continence? Learn the four different types, what causes them, and how to treat them.
What Are the Different Types and Causes of Incontinence?What is incontinence, and how do you know if you are experiencing it? Incontinence causes you to lose control of your bladder. Find out more about the condition and how to recognize its signs.
What Are the 6 Types of Urinary Incontinence?Urinary incontinence is loss of bladder control. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine while straining, coughing, or sneezing or having a frequent urge to urinate that occurs suddenly. Some people may only experience occasional and minor leaks of urine, whereas others may lose small-to-moderate amounts of urine frequently.