Urinary Incontinence & OAB

Bladder control problems touch not only women. Urinary incontinence affects individuals of both sexes, whether young or aged. Urinary leakage is so commonplace that some people actually forget that they have this nagging issue. Those suffering from sickness are not alone. Approximately 13 million Americans have problems with bladder control. They feel a strong urge to urinate during the day and night, due to the over-activity of the bladder. Urinary incontinence is not a popular conversational topic, but this does not mean that it does not happen. People develop short-term or long-term urinary incontinence, most of them refusing to talk to a health care professional, although the condition is highly treatable.


Overview and Facts about Urinary Incontinence & OAB

Whereas urinary incontinence (UI) and overactive bladder (OAB) share some similarities, both of them involved problems with the bladder muscle, they are not the same thing. On the one hand, urinary incontinence is not a medical condition. It is a symptom. Having urinary incontinence means that one loses control of the bladder and leaks urine when exercising or performing any kind of physical activity that requires effort, or when sneezing or coughing. UI can result in passing small or large volumes of pee. On the other hand, overactive bladder is an urinary disorder. What happens is that the bladder is no longer able to hold the waste matter as usual. As a rule, the muscular organ is capable of holding between 1.5 and 2 cups of urine. The bladder acts like a receptacle.

Contrary to popular belief, urinary incontinence is not a normal part of the aging process. While it is true that urinary leakage is more common in aged people, it can happen to anyone. As mentioned previously, individuals of all ages can manifest this symptom. It is interesting to note that UI is more prevalent in women than in men. The reason for this is that women experience pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, which favor the occurrence of urinary leakage. Another common misconception is that having a small bladder automatically leads to urinary problems. The vast majority of people have normal-sized organs, so it has nothing to do with size.


Types of Urinary Incontinence

When it comes to the system that allows individuals to control urination, many problems can arise. Urinary incontinence is classified by the kind of difficulty and, of course, differences in symptoms. There are different types of urinary incontinence that can appear, as follows:

  • Urge incontinence is the intense impulse to urinate, despite the fact that the bladder is not full. Unintentional passing of waste matter takes place when the bladder spasms. Another cause is represented by a change in the position. Urge incontinence is part of a group of symptoms referred to as overactive bladder syndrome.
  • Stress incontinence (effort incontinence): A person loses bladder control when participating in physical activity. Any kind of activity, including running, heavy lifting, or laughing, can lead to the unintentional passing of pee, that is, stress incontinence.
  • Total incontinence is when an individual experiences total loss of bladder control. Simply put, one passes large volumes of urine, regardless of the time of day or night. Total UI is generally the sign of an underlying problem.
  • Mixed incontinence: A person experiences manifestations of both urge and stress urinary incontinence. Generally speaking, one type is more pronounced than the other. Unfortunately, there is not a treatment that works for both illnesses.


Signs and Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence & OAB

The main symptoms of urinary incontinence and overactive bladder are:

  • Unintentional passing of urine
  • Need to go to the bathroom multiple times
  • Pain during urination
  • Abnormal urine smell
  • Stomach hurt/back pain
  • Rashes and skin disorders
  • Childhood bed wetting

Most people wait years until consulting with a health care specialist. It is recommended to talk to a general practitioner immediately after recognizing signs of illness and start a treatment program. The more the sufferer waits to get medical attention, the worse it will be. UI and OAB can lead to complications such as blood clots, risk for developing tumors, infections, bowel obstruction, pneumonia, etc.


Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence & OAB

Urinary incontinence and OAB are easy to recognize. However, the medical practitioner will need to determine what type of condition the patient has in order to develop a successful treatment plan. These are the steps involved in the diagnosis of urinary incontinence and OAB:

  1. Medical history and physical examination. The doctor requests information like the extent of the bladder control issues, how often urinary leakage happens, or what the patient has been eating. As for the physical examination, focus is on anything that can possibly block the urinary tract, like tumors.
  2. Blood tests. Blood is examined in order to find chemical entities related to urinary disease.
  3. Pee testing. The sample is analyzed for abnormalities, such as infection. A dipstick is inserted into the pee. If the stick changes color, that means that bacteria is present.
  4. Ultrasound. A trans-rectal ultrasound is used so as to have a good view of the bladder. Water waves create clear image of the bladder and the proximal internal organs. Not only is this diagnostic test fast, but also it is easy to interpret.
  5. Cystoscopy. During this medical procedure, a tube with a camera at the end is inserted in the urethra and goes all the way through the bladder. The endoscope can identify things that are different from the norm.
  6. Urodynamics. The relationship between the bladder and the urethra is investigated. This may include recounting current activities.


Causes of Urinary Incontinence & OAB

An overactive bladder leads to urinary incontinence. The question now is what causes the internal organ to overreact so as to say. Problems arise when the brain does not send the right signal to the bladder. This can be the result of a stroke. Other possible explanations are Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. If the cause of urinary incontinence is not of a medical nature, the way in which the person lives may bring about urinary leakage. Consuming large quantities of alcohol and caffeine are part of this category.

There are certain drugs that lead to the accidental release of urine, like anti-depressants, diuretics, blood-pressure drugs, and sedatives. Numerous other medications have been proposed as being responsible for OAB. In medical terms, this is called drug-induced incontinence.


Treatment of Urinary Incontinence & OAB

Many people find that referring to a health care practitioner is useful when searching for a treatment of urinary incontinence and OAB. The matter of the fact is that both illnesses can be treated, but in different ways.

Urinary Incontinence

So as to address loss of bladder control, antibiotics, as well as other therapies, are eliminated. The patient may be administered medications that help the bladder relax, such as alpha-blockers. If there is concurrent medical problem, like an infection, then it is necessary to solve the problem. When it comes to infections, antibiotics are more than often prescribed. Hospitalization is not necessary unless the patient has a severe infection.

Lifestyle changes have proven to be useful in the treatment of UI. Individuals who are looking forward to improving their condition need to drink less coffee, pay attention to the fluid intake, and eat a healthy diet. Equally useful is training the bladder. What individuals can do is perform pelvic floor muscle exercises. These exercises help lessen and even prevent distressing urinary incontinence manifestations. The doctor may recommend the use of absorbent products for the involuntary passing of urine, like pads and protective underwear.

Surgery is the last option. When a patient does not respond to the therapies mentioned earlier, a surgical intervention is inevitable. The aim of the medical procedure is to return the muscular sac in the pelvis to its normal position. A plastic tape is inserted in the bladder.


With regard to the overactive bladder syndrome, the urologist may prescribe Botox injections. Botox is an approved treatment for urinary leakage. The injections work by calming the nerves and the muscles surrounding the bladder. The result is that the internal organ doesn’t contract too frequently. Injecting neurotoxins is considered by some invasive, despite the fact that it is becoming more and more common. It takes a couple of days for the Botox injections to work. Nonetheless, sufferers will discover that the effects of the therapy last between 6 months and 9 months.


Living With Urinary Incontinence & OAB

Individuals who have urinary incontinence, that is, millions of people, struggle to live with the medical condition. Although the illness is curable, the condition may become chronic, especially if it is not treated early. People who have urinary incontinence and OAB have a poorer life quality compared to those who do not.

Sleep issues

An overactive bladder prevents a person from getting a good night’s sleep. Individuals tend to wake several times per night with a compelling urge to urinate. Even if they do not have a strong need to pee, people still wake up at night. Such episodes ultimately impact the sleep quality. The next day, individuals feel tired and irascible. The effects of sleep deprivation are often underestimated, when they have such a significant impact on the quality of life. in addition to what was mentioned before, mention can be made of disease risk and lack of productivity.

Sexual side

There is a close connection between urinary incontinence and sex life problems. Relationship problems include but are not limited to lack of intimacy, physical proximity and affection. What happens is that bladder control problems interfere with the person’s sex life. There is a lot of pressure on the abdomen, which in turn leads to the passing of urine. There is fear of urinary leakage during intercourse, not to mention the foul odor. Many women claim that their marriages have ended due to the fact that they have not been able to find a cure for their illness.

Psychological perspective

The unpleasant feelings and emotions that they experience impact the way in which they function. Sufferers isolate themselves from society. As a matter of fact, they avoid going out, fearing that they will accidentally pee in the worst of times. Some go as far as taking time off from work. These individuals are afraid that others may find out about their medical condition. It is needless to say that people with bladder control problems succumb to depression. Patients do not realize that health care professionals are not responsible only for offering medical treatment and therapy.

Doctors have to help individuals manage every aspect of their lives, no matter the stage of their treatment. In other words, they provide patients the assistance that they need in order to cope with the illness. The aim of treating physicians is to help people achieve independence and improve their quality of life. In this case, controlling urinary incontinence is behavioral in nature. Discussions are useful, but pharmacological agents may prove beneficial as well. Those who feel ashamed or embarrassed about their medical condition should refer to their treating physician or seek specialized help.


Urinary Incontinence & OAB Complications

Here is a small list of urinary incontinence and OAB complications:

  • Rashes: Skin irritation shows around the bottom and genital area. It can take the form of redness, peeling, and blisters.
  • Urinary tract infection: Bacteria travels up the urethra, reaches the bladder, and causes an infection. It is difficult to distinguish between incontinence and a urinary tract infection.
  • Tumor: some cancers can possibly result in the loss of bladder control. These are prostate cancer, cancer of the pelvic region, bladder cancer, and so on and so forth.

From what has been presented above, it is clear that urinary incontinence and overactive bladder often lead to other problems. Most of the complications are physical. The treatment largely depends on the type of inconvenience that affects the life of the patient.

People need to inform their doctors about the issues that they are experiencing and, ultimately, deal with them. Not dealing with urinary incontinence complications can lead to negative outcomes.

AAOM Editor

Academic Association of Medicine is the go to resource for all health related issues. We are an independent body that seeks to offer general information on various health topics and unbiased reviews on health products.

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