Urinary incontinence can cause different types of symptoms, depending on which type of incontinence is present.
Overactive bladder is associated with an increased urge to urinate throughout the day and during sleep. Overactive bladder is usually associated with some type of injury or irritation of the nerves that control bladder function, resulting in overstimulation of those nerves.
Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles that support and control the bladder become weak. Symptoms of stress incontinence include urine leakage, usually when sneezing, laughing, coughing, or during exercise or physical activity.
Mixed incontinence features aspects of both overactive bladder and stress incontinence.
Many factors can cause or contribute to urinary incontinence, including obesity, vaginal childbirth, pregnancy and menopause. Vaginal childbirth and pregnancy can cause trauma to the nerves and muscles that support the bladder, and obesity places an added strain on the muscles and connective tissues that support the bladder. Pelvic organ prolapse is one of the most common causes of chronic urinary incontinence, becoming much more common with age. Prolapse occurs when the network of connective tissues that supports the bladder and other organs in the lower belly becomes weak and damaged, allowing one or more organs to descend into the vaginal vault. As the bladder shifts positions, urinary incontinence can develop.
There are several methods used to diagnose incontinence, including urinalysis and urodynamic studies that assess how much liquid the bladder can hold, how well the bladder empties itself, and other functions.The doctor may perform other exams to evaluate the structure and function of the bladder, including exams that use special instruments to look inside the bladder.
Treatment of urinary incontinence depends on the symptoms and the underlying cause. Some very mild cases can improve with exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, and bladder training may also be useful in some patients. Other patients benefit from oral medications or even BOTOX® injections to help reduce symptoms.
In more severe cases or when these other options don’t provide enough relief, surgery may be recommended to reconstruct weak pelvic floor muscles or provide additional support. Dr. Smith performs in-depth evaluations of each patient’s symptoms, health, and medical history to determine the most appropriate options for optimal long-term relief.
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