What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is any involuntary or unwanted loss of urine. It is considered a medical condition if it happens regularly. The risk of developing incontinence increases with age, but younger people may also develop it.
If incontinence is frequent or affects your quality of life, it is important to seek medical advice. In most cases, incontinence can be treated or cured with various treatment options. Together with your doctor you can discuss which treatment is best for you.
What causes urinary incontinence?
Some of the most common causes of incontinence are:
- Hormone deficiencies
- Weak pelvic floor muscles
- Neurological lower urinary tract dysfunction
- Urinary tract infections
- Benign prostatic enlargement (BPE)
Common risk factors include:
- Pelvic surgery
- Prostate surgery
What are the types of urinary incontinence?
There are different types of urinary incontinence, depending on how and when you lose urine. This is related to which part of the lower urinary tract is affected:
- Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) means that you lose urine during certain activities, like coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, jumping, or lifting heavy things.
- Urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) happens when you get a sudden need to urinate which you cannot postpone. The bladder muscle contracts and you urinate when you do not want to.
- Your doctor may diagnose you with mixed urinary incontinence if you suffer from both SUI and UUI symptoms.
Which tests are done to diagnose urinary incontinence?
Your doctor needs to find out which type of incontinence you have and what causes it. This will help to find the best treatment. Some of the tests that the doctor can perform to better understand your situation are:
- a full medical history
- a physical examination
- patient questionnaires
- a bladder diary
- a urine test
- an assessment of residual urine
- a pad test
Your doctor may also recommend a urodynamic evaluation, a uroflowmetry test, more invasive urodynamic testing, a cystoscopy, or imaging in case your diagnosis is unclear for some reason.
What is the purpose of a patient questionnaire?
The doctor may ask you to fill out a questionnaire to better understand your symptoms and how they affect your everyday life. Questionnaires can also be used to monitor your symptoms over time, so you may need to fill them out more than once.
What is the purpose of a bladder diary?
Your doctor may ask you to keep a bladder diary for a few days. Here you will note down how much you drink, how often you urinate, and how much urine you produce. The bladder diary is important because it helps your doctor to understand your symptoms better. You can download a bladder diary from the website.