What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is a common and socially debilitating condition, and is described as the inability to control the release of urine, resulting in occasional leakages on coughing, sneezing or exercise; to having sudden, unpredictable episodes of strong urinary urgency, associated with sudden overwhelming leakages.
There are various types of urinary incontinence, and frequently they occur in combination, resulting in significant distress to the individual sufferer.
- Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is loss of small amounts of urine upon coughing, laughing, sneezing, and exertions that increase the intra-abdominal pressure. The problem is especially noticeable when you let your bladder get too full, and is one of the commonest forms of incontinence affecting women.
- Urge incontinence is involuntary urinary leakage associated with a sudden, intense urge to urinate, which is difficult to control or defer.
- Mixed incontinence is typically a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
- Transient incontinence is a temporary episode of incontinence, and can be caused by medications, urinary tract infections, mental impairment, restricted mobility, and severe constipation. Incontinence can also occur when one delays toileting while focussing on an important task at hand.
- Overflow incontinence occurs when there is an inability to empty the bladder, leading to overflow of urine. This is typically associated with a feeling of not emptying the bladder, and having a weak or poor urine stream.
In making a diagnosis of the type and possible combination of urinary incontinence, a careful history-taking is essential combined with a physical examination will focus on looking for signs of medical conditions causing incontinence, such as a nerve-related cause. Frequently, the cornerstone of deciding on a diagnosis, is performing a urodynamic investigation, and other tests like urine tests, pelvic scans and sometimes, a scope into the bladder (cystoscopy). In many situations, urinary incontinence can be cured. And even if the condition can’t be completely eliminated, modern medications, products and treatments can greatly control urinary incontinence, giving back control to many sufferers can ease your discomfort and inconvenience.