Incontinence can be distressing and embarrassing for those who suffer from it. While it can be especially common in older people, it can affect anyone at any age. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for the management of incontinence. But with so many options, it can be difficult to determine which ones are effective. In this article, we will discuss the various incontinence treatments available and evaluate their effectiveness.
Types of Incontinence:
There are three main types of incontinence:
1. Stress incontinence: occurs when pressure is applied on the bladder during physical activity, coughing, sneezing, or laughing. It is most commonly experienced in women who have had multiple pregnancies or undergone menopause.
2. Urge incontinence: occurs when there is sudden and intense urge to urinate, resulting in involuntary leakage. This can be caused by neurological disorders or an overactive bladder.
3. Overflow incontinence: occurs when the bladder is unable to empty fully, resulting in constant dribbling. This can be caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract or weakened bladder muscles.
Treatment options for Stress Incontinence:
1. Pelvic floor muscle exercises (PFME): also known as Kegel exercises, aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and rectum. Studies have shown that PFME can significantly reduce stress incontinence symptoms.
2. Electrical stimulation therapy: involves using a small electrical current to stimulate the muscles that control the bladder. This can improve muscle strength and coordination and reduce incontinence episodes.
3. Surgery: if pelvic floor muscle exercises and electrical stimulation therapy do not work, surgery may be recommended. The most common surgical procedure is tension-free vaginal tape (TVT) which involves placing a synthetic tape under the urethra and abdominal wall to support the bladder.
Treatment options for Urge Incontinence:
1. Medication: the most commonly prescribed medication for urge incontinence are anticholinergics which work by relaxing the bladder muscle. While they can be effective, they can also cause side effects such as dry mouth and constipation.
2. Nerve stimulation: involves placing a small electrode near the sacral nerve to improve nerve signals to the bladder. This can decrease urge incontinence episodes and improve bladder capacity.
3. Bladder training: involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits and voiding according to a schedule. This can help to stretch the bladder and reduce the frequency of incontinence episodes.
Treatment options for Overflow Incontinence:
1. Catheterisation: involves inserting a tube into the bladder to drain urine. This can be an effective short-term solution for those with urinary retention or obstruction.
2. Surgery: if catheterisation is not effective, surgery may be recommended to remove the obstruction or repair the bladder outlet.
3. Medication: in rare cases, medication may be prescribed to improve bladder contraction and emptying.
1. Improved quality of life: managing incontinence can significantly improve one’s quality of life, reducing the anxiety and embarrassment associated with the condition.
2. Reduced risk of infection: untreated incontinence can increase the risk of urinary tract infections and skin irritation.
3. Improved social life: by managing incontinence, individuals can participate in social activities without fear of embarrassment or discomfort.
4. Improved sleep: by managing incontinence, individuals can sleep better without the fear of leakage or waking up frequently to use the bathroom.
Incontinence treatments can significantly improve one’s quality of life, reducing the anxiety and embarrassment associated with the condition. There are many treatment options available depending on the type of incontinence one has. Pelvic floor muscle exercises, electrical stimulation therapy, medication, nerve stimulation, bladder training, catheterisation, and surgery are just some of the options available. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine which treatment is most appropriate. By managing incontinence, individuals can lead a full and active life without the fear of embarrassment, discomfort or infection.