Incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine. It can be a very debilitating symptom. Many suffer in silence because of the embarrassment or think of it as a natural consequence of ageing. Sufferers are often not aware that there are very effective treatments available. These depend on the type of incontinence. There are basically two types:
The most common type is stress incontinence. Urinary leaks occur when physical stress is put on the pelvic floor muscles, such as when lifting heavy objects, laughing, sneezing, climbing steps or running. Women are more often affected by stress incontinence than men. This is due to the anatomical differences between both genders; more precisely, differences in the pelvic floor muscles which have a critical function in bladder closure.
Another type of incontinence is urge incontinence caused often by bladder spasms. These cause patients to experience urinary urgency, a sudden and compelling desire to pass urine which is often difficult to control and may result in frequent urination, night time urination and urinary leakage. There are many reasons for this including bladder irritation from infection, caffeine intake and nicotine consumption, your initial assessment by your Manchester Urology Consultant will enable identification of this and other potential causes for bladder spasm to facilitate prompt and effective therapy.
Sometimes both types of incontinence occur at the same time and the condition is referred to as mixed incontinence.
Investigation and Treatment
Successful treatment is dependent on a careful understanding of the underlying cause of the incontinence. A careful history and examination is an important part of this process. To distinguish between the types of incontinence, an out-patient investigation known as urodynamics may be required. This simple test enables your doctor to determine the behaviour of the bladder whilst filling and then when passing urine and from this can determine the correct treatment.