Urinary incontinence may be common with aging, but it is not normal. One in 5 people over the age of 40 suffers from urgency or frequency symptoms, and some of them will not make it to the bathroom in time. Patients often suffer in silence because they think it is common and that nothing can be done to help them but, in fact, we can cure most patients.
What’s to blame?
Urinary incontinence can occur for many different reasons. It could be from something as simple as drinking caffeine to something more serious, such as bladder cancer. In men, prostate enlargement can affect urination. In women, pregnancy, frequent urine infections and menopause can lead to incontinence.
There are four main types of incontinence: urge, stress, overflow and functional. Sometimes patients have more than one type and a urologist will be able to determine the cause.
A visit to the urologist is often delayed because patients are embarrassed by incontinence. Often, patients have started to use absorbent pads or diapers to deal with their symptoms. As a urologist, our job is to make patients feel comfortable so that we can get to the bottom of this very treatable condition.
Treatment can include behavioral modification, medications, medical devices or surgery, although most often surgery is not necessary. A typical visit will include a thorough history and physical, a urinalysis to rule out infection or blood in the urine and an ultrasound of the bladder to ensure the bladder is emptying properly.
The most important first step is to seek help from a professional. With the proper evaluation and appropriate treatment, you can regain control of your bladder and your life.
Vishal Bhalani, M.D., Urologist, Advanced Urology, [email protected]