Urge incontinence occurs in both men and women. It is estimated that about 1 in 10 women over 65 experience urge incontinence, but younger women and men can also be affected. In women, urge incontinence sometimes coincides with stress incontinence, also known as mixed urinary incontinence. After stress incontinence, urge incontinence is the most common form of incontinence.
Urge incontinence can have several causes. Although age itself is not a cause of urge incontinence, it is more common in the elderly as well as in people with nerve disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or dementia. Other causes of urge incontinence include (benign) prostate enlargement and bladder stones, while obesity, stress and medication use can also contribute to the development of urge incontinence.
Urge incontinence is often accompanied by an irritable or overactive bladder. People with an overactive bladder have to urinate more frequently than usual. To prevent accidents, people with urge incontinence go to the toilet more often than necessary, making the bladder even weaker.
Unnecessary bladder contractions make the bladder feel full even with just a small amount of urine in it. These contractions make the person feel a strong urge to urinate.
Due to the uncontrolled contractions of the bladder muscle, the bladder may be squeezed empty and cause involuntary urine loss. The result is that people is an uncontrolled flow or leakage of urine.
The solutions for urge incontinence depends on the cause. A doctor or health care practitioner should always help diagnose the type and cause of the incontinence.
Bladder training, along with a urine diary, is often the first step. A doctor may also recommend making specific dietary changes. Bladder training can help reduce the symptoms of urge incontinence or even make them disappear altogether. When keeping a urine diary, a person records how often and how much they urinate.
Bladder training is often combined with pelvic floor exercises and medication.
If symptoms are not improved after 3 months of bladder training, a doctor or specialist may advise a surgical procedures or medications.
Certain beverages, such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks and certain spices (such as hot peppers) are known to cause irritation of the bladder wall, which can lead to urge incontinence or worsen an existing condition.
Although pelvic floor symptoms are not a cause for urge incontinence, training the pelvic floor muscles can help reduce the symptoms. A visit to a health care practitioner or pelvic floor physiotherapist can provide guidance.
Urge incontinence and overactive bladder syndrome can be affected by excess weight. Losing weight can help reduce symptoms.
Sometimes people with urge incontinence decide to start drinking less, but staying hydrated is very important to keeping the bladder healthy. For an adult, drinking at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day is advised. Staying hydrated is necessary to remove waste products from the body, and by drinking less, there is a risk that the concentration of waste products in the urine becomes too high, resulting in concentrated urine, which can worsen the symptoms.