Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common condition in men and women that involves the involuntary loss of urine. It can occur while laughing, coughing, sneezing or jogging, which is known as stress incontinence. It can also come on as a strong urge to urinate without enough time to reach a bathroom, known as urge incontinence. While neither condition is serious, they can be embarrassing and affect your daily life.
UI can affect people of all ages, but women are especially susceptible during and after pregnancy. They are often caused by a urinary tract infection or weak muscles in the urinary tract. Weak muscles may prevent you from closing off the urethra while doing certain activities. Urinary incontinence can usually be diagnosed through a medical examination and simple tests. Treatment may include life changes, medication or several minimally invasive procedures.
Overactive Bladder (OAB), or urge incontinence, occurs when a person experiences urine leakage after feeling a sudden urge to urinate. This happens because the bladder muscles contract at inappropriate times, regardless of how much urine has collected in the bladder. It can happen to anyone at any age, although it is most common in women and the elderly.
OAB can be caused by neurological injuries or diseases as well as bladder problems such as infection, cancer, stones, inflammation (swelling) or obstruction (blockage). In many cases, however, a cause for OAB cannot be found.
Tests for OAB may include a physical exam, urinalysis, urine culture, urinary stress test, ultrasound, cystoscopy, and a post-void residual (PVR) test to measure how much urine is left in the bladder after urination. Your doctor will want to test for other types of incontinence as well. Treatment depends on the type and severity of symptoms, the underlying cause (if one is detected), and the patient’s and doctor’s preferences. In general, the three types of treatment are medication, retraining and surgery.