As many as a third of American adults suffer from urinary incontinence, with embarrassing symptoms that many women and men are reluctant to talk about. In fact, many people mistakenly believe that some urine leakage is “just part of getting older” — a medical problem that you just have to learn to live with. But that’s not true.
Urinary incontinence can be treated, often without surgery. The first step in managing your incontinence is to open up to your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing.
At Adult and Pediatric Urology, Alfred Shtainer, MD, FACS, uses a patient-centered approach to tailor incontinence treatments for each patient’s unique needs and lifestyles. In this post, learn what causes urinary incontinence and how treatment can help you live a more comfortable, more confident life.
Urinary incontinence: The basics
Urinary incontinence affects both women and men, but it tends to happen in women much more frequently. That’s likely due to hormonal changes and physical stress associated with pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the dramatic decline in estrogen that happens during menopause. For men, changes in the prostate gland are a major cause of incontinence symptoms.
Other factors can play a role, as well, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Long-term use of some medicines
- Nerve damage from trauma, surgery, or disease
- Chronic straining during bowel movements
Some dietary choices can influence your symptoms, too. These foods irritate your bladder, and ideally, should be limited or avoided:
- Coffee and other products with a lot of caffeine
- Chili peppers and other “hot” spices
- Foods containing a lot of acid
- Carbonated drinks
- Some food additives or artificial sweeteners
During your visit, Dr. Shtainer performs a comprehensive evaluation, along with a review of your personal and family medical histories, to identify potential risk factors. He also uses advanced bladder testing techniques to select the best treatment based in part on the type of incontinence you have.
There are three primary types of urinary incontinence.
Also called overactive bladder (OAB), urge incontinence is associated with feelings that you must urinate immediately. These urges are intense and frequent, even occurring when you’re trying to sleep.
If you’ve ever had a urinary tract infection (UTI), you’ve had a little taste of the symptoms of urge incontinence. The difference is, chronic urge incontinence causes those symptoms all the time.
Stress incontinence is the most common type of urinary incontinence. This type of urinary incontinence causes leakage when stress is placed on the bladder. If you have stress incontinence, you probably leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or exert yourself physically.
People with mixed incontinence have symptoms of both stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Some people have functional incontinence, a fourth type of incontinence that’s not directly associated with a bladder problem. Instead, this type of incontinence happens in people who have a condition — like severe arthritis — that makes it difficult for them to make it to the bathroom in time.
Treating urinary incontinence
Dr. Shtainer offers several treatment options for urinary incontinence, with therapy based on each patient’s specific needs. Many patients with urinary incontinence benefit from medications designed to prevent bladder spasms.
Minimally invasive treatments are available to help strengthen pelvic floor muscles for better bladder support. Other treatments target nerves associated with overactive bladder symptoms.
Dr. Shtainer also offers surgical intervention for people with very weak pelvic floor muscles and inadequate bladder support. These procedures use a special surgical mesh to form a sling that helps the bladder maintain its normal position.
In addition to your medical treatment, your therapy plan may include bladder “training” along with simple lifestyle changes, such as:
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Quitting smoking
- Losing excess pounds
- Optimizing treatments of underlying medical problems
- Changing medications
- Doing pelvic floor strengthening exercises, like Kegels
While these changes may help reduce symptoms, they’re designed to work in tandem with medical therapies for optimal relief.
Find an incontinence solution that works for you
With offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York, Adult and Pediatric Urology makes it easy and convenient to find an incontinence solution that works for you. To find out more about the incontinence treatments we offer, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Shtainer and the team at Adult and Pediatric Urology today.