Urge incontinence is an urgent desire to urinate followed by uncontrolled loss of urine.
What is going on in the body?
Normally, people can hold urine for some time after feeling that the bladder is full. People with urge incontinence cannot hold it and need to find a bathroom quickly.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
When urge incontinence comes on suddenly, the most common cause is a urinary tract infection. Urge incontinence without infection is common in older people and often has no clear cause.
Other causes of urge incontinence are:
- overactive bladder muscles
- obstruction of urine flow
- medication side effects
- weakened bladder muscles
- bladder stones and tumors
What can be done to prevent the condition?
There are ways to prevent urinary incontinence:
- Urinating at regular intervals before the urge occurs can help.
- Exercising the muscles of the pelvic floor can help. To feel how these muscles work, a person can simply stop the flow of urine while urinating. This exercise should be practiced several times a day to strengthen the muscles.
- Drinking 1 or 2 glasses of cranberry juice each day will help prevent infection.
- Drinking at least 8 glasses of water each day will keep the urine dilute.
How is the condition diagnosed?
People often live with incontinence without seeking help because they are too embarrassed to discuss it. The condition is diagnosed primarily by the pattern of symptoms. If it starts suddenly, it is most likely a bladder infection. Usually the healthcare professional strongly suspects this diagnosis after listening to the history and performing a physical exam. Appearance of bacteria and white blood cells in the urine confirms the presence of infection.
Long Term Effects
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
Depression is a common long-term effect for people with incontinence. The condition interferes with normal activities of daily living. Without correct diagnosis and treatment the problem will get worse and will be even more difficult to treat.
What are the treatments for the condition?
If the cause is a urinary tract infection, it is treated with antibiotics. There are also drugs to relax the bladder. Drug treatment should be monitored carefully and adjusted to each person's needs.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
All medications have potential side effects. The specific side effects depend on the medication that is prescribed. For example, a drug that relaxes the bladder may cause dryness of the mouth.
How is the condition monitored?
Follow up and ongoing monitoring is important in any treatment to make sure progress is being made.