Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence Overview


Urinary incontinence is characterized by the loss of voluntary control over your bladder. It involves leakage of urine against your conscious muscle control. The voluntary control over the urinary sphincter is either weakened or entirely lost. This may be a temporary or chronic condition, depending on its cause.

The Urology Care Foundation states that millions of adults in the US, about one out of two females and one of every four males, suffer from urinary incontinence. A study by John Hopkins Medicine reveals that this condition is more common among the age 50 or over. However, urinary incontinence can affect anyone, regardless of age and gender. If you fear leakage of urine and it affects your routine activities, then it is about time to think for medical attention. Don’t feel embarrassed to talk to your doctor about this medical condition. There are numerous treatment options available for you!


The following are some of the various kinds of urinary incontinence:

  • Urgency incontinence:The inability to hold urine long enough to reach a toilet is known as urgency incontinence. The person has a strong and sudden urge to urinate, and it may even be associated with urinating often. Although this can be a standalone medical condition, it may also indicate some other health condition or disease that requires immediate medical attention. Some of the prominent causes identified behind the urge incontinence include inflammation of the lining of the bladder, neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, an enlarged prostate.
  • Functional incontinence: This condition is associated with physical difficulty and inability to reach the restroom in time due to conditions like arthritis, injuries, or other disabilities.
  • Stress incontinence: It is associated with coughing, exercise, laughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects. These activities put strain sphincter muscles. The extra strain can cause the muscle to release urine. The most significant factors for stress incontinence include pregnancy, menopause, hysterectomy, age, and obesity.
  • Overflow incontinence.This condition prevails is the quantity of urine produced is more than your bladder’s capacity to hold it. Overflow incontinence may result because of an enlarged prostate, urinary stones, a tumor exerting pressure on the bladder, and constipation.
  • Total incontinence. This type of urinary incontinence can be caused by an anatomical defect present from birth. Moreover, a spinal cord injury may impair the nerve signaling between the bladder and the brain.
  • Other causes. Use of some medications like antihypertensive drugs, diuretics, sedatives, sleeping tablets, and muscle relaxants. Frequent use of alcohol can also aggravate the condition of urinary incontinence. Urinary tract infections are also a major predisposing factor for urinary incontinence.


The following factors are linked to a higher incidence rate of urinary incontinence:

Harvard researchers help explain link between emotion and ...

  • Smoking: it can lead to chronic cough, which may cause episodes of incontinence.
  • Old age: the muscles of the bladder, pelvic floor, and urethra weaken with age. This results in reduced voluntary muscle control.
  • Obesity: being overweight puts an extra burden on the bladder and the surrounding muscles. As a result, the muscles get weaker, making urinary leakage more likely when the person coughs or sneezes.
  • Gender: women are at more risk of stress incontinence as they give birth to children and undergo pregnancy.
  • Prostate disease: males may suffer from urinary incontinence after prostate surgery


The diagnostic procedures for urinary incontinence include:

  • Physical exam: your doctor may examine the vagina and check the strength of your pelvic floor muscles. In the male patient, they may examine the rectum and prostrate to see whether it is enlarged.
  • Bladder diary: the person is asked to record the quantity of water drank, when urination occurred, the volume of urine, and the frequency of the episodes of incontinence.
  • Blood test: this access the functionality of both kidneys.
  • Urinalysis: these tests are carried out to check for sign of infections and other abnormalities
  • Postvoid residual (PVR) measurement: this measurement allows the assessment of how much urine is left in the bladder after urinating.
  • Stress test: the patient is asked to apply sudden force/pressure while the healthcare professional looks for loss of urine.
  • Pelvic ultrasound: this provides a detailed image and can help in detecting any abnormalities.
  • Cystogram: an x-ray procedure provides a picture of the bladder
  • Urodynamic test: this determines the extent of pressure which your bladder and the sphincter can easily withstand.
  • Cystoscopy: a thin tube with a lens is inserted into the urethra. The physician can view any abnormalities on a computer screen which may be present in the urinary tract.


A lot of different treatment options are available for urinary incontinence. The choice of treatment mainly depends on the actual underlying problem and how serious it is. The treatment method should also suit your lifestyle. As a golden rule in medicine, the easiest, simplest, and safest type of treatments should be tried first.

  • Pelvic muscle exercises:focus on the muscles that are used to stop urination. Strengthening these muscles helps you to control urination.
  • Timed voiding:you urinate on a fixed schedule, for example, every two hours. This helps to develop a fixed routine. Later, you can even extend the time gradually.
  • Lifestyle changes: as quitting smoking, losing weight, giving up alcohol, reducing caffeine intake, avoiding heavy lifting objects, and preventing constipation can significantly reduce incontinence.
  • Medicines: some drugs ensure that your bladder gets completely emptied during urination. While other medical drugs maintain tight muscular contraction to lessen the urine leakage.
  • Surgery: can sometimes improve or completely cure the incontinence if a positional change in the bladder caused this condition. A blockage caused due to an enlarged prostate can also be treated with a surgical procedure.


A wide variety of products are available in the market that can help you manage urinary incontinence with ease. Protective pads and garments with different designs and structures ensure that all types of demands are met. A wide variety of sizes, styles, absorbencies, and colors are available to meet almost every patient's requirement. The most common and widely available ones include:

  • Absorbent pads: These are designed for both males and females suffering from urinary incontinence. They are disposable and have adhesive strips to hold them firmly inside your underwear. They can trap eight or more ounces of fluid inside them. They are also able to block the odor.
  • Incontinence panties and briefs:look very similar to the usual underwear for men and women. But they have a waterproof lining that can absorb ten or more ounces of fluid. They can be reused, and are washable. Similar to pads, these underwear are designed to absorb and keep moisture and block odor.

McKesson Classic Underpad, 23 x 36 Inch

  • Protective underpads: are reusable and disposable flat pads that can absorb moisture. They are designed to protect chairs, mattresses, chairs, and other furniture from leaked urine. These underpads are available in a wide range of absorbencies.
  • Plastic pants: these pants fit over the regular undergarments play a significant role in protecting against mild to moderate leaks.

3M™ Cavilon™ Skin Protectant Tube

Skin Ointments: a widespread skin condition in such patients is Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis. This condition results from prolonged exposure of urine with skin. Cavilon provides a durable barrier cream that protects the skin surface from the toxic effects of prolonged exposure from urine. This video explains the product functioning in a more detailed way. Cavilon is one of the best skin ointments for incontinence. Cavilon has no odor and can thus be worn discreetly. Incontinence diapers are designed for comfort but for men and women with incontinence and sensitive skin reactions and irritation can occur. Jupiter Supplies stocks the full 3M line of Cavilon skincare products and ointments.

Jun 22nd 2020 Dr. Hamad Shafqat

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