Urinary incontinence is the unwanted and unplanned leakage or loss of urine. Urinary incontinence can be a debilitating condition that causes great emotional distress. Whether an individual suffers from a mild case of occasional incontinence or from a more severe condition, treatment can improve or resolve the illness. Urinary incontinence takes many forms, but the most common types are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence is the leakage of urine associated with coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercise. The severity of stress incontinence varies from losing a few drops of urine to voiding the entire bladder. Stress urinary incontinence can be improved with pelvic muscle exercises, commonly called Kegel exercises. In more severe cases surgery may be required. Surgical intervention ranges from minor, temporary surgeries to more permanent complicated procedures.
Urge incontinence, often called over active bladder or OAB, is the sudden sensation of the need to void and not being able to reach the restroom before some or all of the urine comes out. Urge incontinence is often treated with medications called anticholinergics, which relax the muscle of the bladder, preventing it from contracting without warning. These medications work well for many people, while others cannot tolerate the side effects. A newer medication that works on the nerves of the bladder blocks the stimulation telling the bladder to contract. Although the newer medication appears to have fewer side effects, all medications have potential side effects that many people cannot tolerate.
There are several exciting things now being used for urge incontinence. Botox has recently been approved for use with people who cannot tolerate or are not helped by oral medications. PTNS (percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation) is a drug-free therapy that works on the nerve that stimulates the bladder to contract. PTNS is a simple in-office treatment done weekly with limited side effects. InterStim is another drug-free treatment for urge incontinence. The InterStim device blocks the nerve impulse causing the bladder to contract. InterStim is now also approved for fecal incontinence. InterStim has produced great results in individuals on whom other treatments have failed.
My cohorts and I at Urology Associates of Tupelo in The Continence Center help women and men of all ages with urinary and now fecal incontinence. We are very excited about the new medications and treatment options available to our patients.
Urinary and fecal incontinence can both be debilitating conditions. Many individuals do not admit to having either, even to their physician, because they are embarrassed. If you or a loved one is suffering from one of these conditions, we urge you to seek help. No referral is needed. For more information, call (662) 377-7100 or The Continence Center at (662) 377-7279.
Lauri McKell is a Certified Urology Nurse Practitioner with Urology Associates and the Continence Center, both located in Tupelo.