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Urinary Incontinence: Treatments to Take Control of Your Bladder
Friday, January 24, 2014 - 12 Noon (Eastern Time)

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Sneha Vaish, MD

  • Urologist
  • Department of Urology

Urinary incontinence affects between 13 and 17 million adult Americans every day. The severity of urinary incontinence can range from leaking a little when you sneeze or cough to having an urge to urinate so strong that you aren’t able to make it to a bathroom in time. Many times it is both symptoms. The risk of public embarrassment can keep people away from doing social activities with their family and friends. If you’re frustrated by bladder control problems, getting help might be easier than you think.

Incontinence usually happens because of problems with muscle and nerves that help to hold and release urine. Urine may escape with less pressure than usual if the muscles of the wall of the bladder contract are damaged, causing a change in the position of the bladder. Stress incontinence refers to instances where coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising, or other movements put pressure on your bladder and cause you to leak. This type of incontinence is most common among women and often develops as a result of childbirth or pregnancy.

Individuals who have a sudden urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine, may be experiencing urge incontinence. A common cause of urge incontinence is inappropriate bladder contractions or abnormal nerve signals. This can mean that your bladder empties while you are sleeping after only drinking a small amount of water or if you hear or touch running water. Overactive bladder occurs when abnormal nerves send signals to the bladder at the wrong time, causing its muscles to squeeze without any sort of warning. Overflow incontinence is a term used when people cannot completely empty their bladders. They constantly feel as if they have a full bladder at all times. This is often a result of diabetes caused by weakening muscles.

There are a few risk factors that increase your chances of developing urinary incontinence. Being obese puts more pressure on the muscles around your bladder, which weakens them causing more leakage. Urinary incontinence is more common in women due to certain facets of their lives such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. However, there is a higher incidence of bladder control problems for men who have an enlarged prostate. Smokers are more likely to develop a chronic cough, which places stress on the urinary sphincter, leading to incontinence. There are also some other medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, urinary tract infections or injury that can harm bladder nerves or muscles.

Here at Cleveland Clinic Florida, we offer many treatments to help control your bladder. Sacral nerve stimulation can help when other therapies such as Kegel exercises, medication and diet changes don’t. This type of treatment involves the electric stimulation of the nerves that control the bladder. A neurotransmitter device is implanted under the skin and transmits mild electric impulses through a wire close to the sacral nerve. These impulses influence the bladder sphincter and pelvic muscles, controlling the bladder. This treatment does not cure urinary incontinence but reduces the number of wetting episodes. To have your questions about urinary incontinence and treatment options answered by one of our Cleveland Clinic Florida expert urologists, please join us during this informative web chat.

This Health Chat will open on Thursday, January 23, 2014 to allow you to submit questions. We will try to answer as many questions as possible during the chat. Please create an account to attend the chat and submit your questions.