Urge Incontinence (Overactive Bladder)

When patients suffer from urge incontinence they develop a strong, immediate need to urinate. This triggers the bladder muscle to react by contracting or spasm, and in turn push out urine. Urge incontinence is a very disruptive and embarrassing urinary problem that can be associated with symptomatic BPH. Sufferers tend to engage in fewer social activities because of the concern that they may leak or have to excuse themselves to run to the bathroom. Night time urination, known as nocturia, is also a concern and shares many of the same causes and symptoms of urge incontinence. Few patients are willing to wear protective underwear, making effective treatment and diagnosis all the more important.

Causes of Urge Incontinence

The bladder is a muscle and just like the other muscles in our bodies, it is sensitive to changes in our health situation. However, there is no one cause of urge incontinence. A complete medical evaluation can shed light on the possible reasons for the condition. Some of the most common, generally accepted causes of urge incontinence include:

BPH – Urge incontinence is a significant problem for men suffering from BPH and its related complications. Since prostatic enlargement reduces the amount of urine that can flow freely from the bladder, the bladder muscle tends to malfunction.

Other causes of urge incontinence include:

  • Cancer of the bladder
  • Inflammation of the bladder
  • Bladder stones
  • Infection
  • Obstruction of urine (caused by BPH or otherwise)
  • Nerve problems

Treatment for Urge Incontinence

Treatments for urge incontinence vary between patients and are based on the underlying cause of the problem. These treatments may include:

  • Improved diet and exercise as well as lifestyle change to reduce the strain on the bladder. This may include changing water consumption habits as well as avoiding diuretics such as alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the bladder, making spasms more likely
  • Bladder retraining, involving bladder muscle exercises to improve urinary retention. This can improve urge incontinence if there are no other significant challenges
  • Pelvic floor exercises such as kegels can assists with urge incontinence
  • Medications can be used to treat urge incontinence or its underlying cause, however patients should be aware of side-effects
  • Surgery can be used to treat urge incontinence (rarely) or its root cause (more commonly). Surgery does come with risks that should be discussed with a qualified medical professional
  • In-office BPH therapy can effectively improve or eliminate urge incontinence in men suffering from excess prostatic tissue with excellent long-term results and few sexual side effects. Urologix offers both Cooled ThermoTherapy (Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy) and Prostiva RF (Transurethral Needle Ablation). As with any medical procedure, you should talk to a medical professional to learn about the benefits and risks
  • Nerve stimulation

The effectiveness of treatment for urge incontinence largely rests on the root cause of the problem. While urge incontinence in and of itself rarely causes significant follow-on disorders, underlying conditions such as BPH, bladder cancer, infections and inflammation can. It is important to see a urologist when urge incontinence becomes bothersome.

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