By Brent Zamzow, D.O., F.A.C.O.S.
More than 15 million Americans experience urinary incontinence, a condition characterized by the inability to control urine. Women experience incontinence twice as often as men. Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference.
Urinary incontinence can be uncomfortable, inconvenient and, in some cases, embarrassing. However, it’s not an inevitable part of aging. Most people with this condition can be helped or cured.
ONE CONDITION, FOUR FORMS
Incontinence may be caused by a variety of factors, including urinary tract infections and pelvic support problems. In fact, urinary incontinence can be broadly categorized into four different types—and figuring out which you’re experiencing can be the first step to managing these distressing episodes once and for all.
Urinary incontinence is divided into these categories:
• Stress incontinence: Activities such as coughing, exercising, laughing or sneezing put pressure on your bladder and cause urine to leak uncontrollably.
• Urgency incontinence: You suddenly need to urinate and may not have time to make it to the bathroom.
• Overflow incontinence: You experience frequent and excessive leaking of urine. Additionally, your bladder may not empty completely when you go to the bathroom.
• Functional incontinence: Urine flow is normal, but you are not able to get to the bathroom in time because of a disease that makes it hard to move, such as arthritis.
INCONTINENCE IN WOMEN
As a result of pregnancy and childbirth, women may experience problems with the pelvic muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that support the bladder, uterus and other organs. Damage or stretching of the muscles can result in pelvic organ prolapse, a condition where the pelvic floor is no longer able to support the internal organs.
With pelvic prolapse, the organs drop downward—often causing discomfort, urinary incontinence, bowel movement difficulties or painful intercourse. Proper diagnosis and treatment may bring relief and a better quality of life.
TAKING BACK YOUR BLADDER
If you are experiencing problems with urination, your doctor may complete a physical exam and ask questions about family history and lifestyle habits. Medication may be used to treat the cause of your urinary incontinence. Bladder training may be a good option if you have stress or urge incontinence. If nonsurgical methods of treatment do not prove effective, your doctor may recommend surgery.
Urinary incontinence is widely underreported to health professionals, despite the obvious distress it can cause. My advice: don’t suffer in silence. In many cases, urinary incontinence is treatable, meaning you can reclaim control over your body and start enjoying life again.
At Tennova, we offer a wide range of services designed to meet your health and wellness needs. Visit www.Tennova.com or call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) to learn more about our services.
About the Author
Brent Zamzow, D.O., F.A.C.O.S., is a board-certified urologist. He sees patients at Tennova Urology-Dyersburg, located at 1718 Par Avenue, Suite A, in Dyersburg. He is also a member of the medical staff at Tennova Healthcare – Dyersburg Regional. Dr. Zamzow offers comprehensive care and treatment for conditions affecting the male and female genitourinary tract for adults and children.
About Tennova Healthcare
One of the state’s largest health networks, Tennova Healthcare includes 16 hospitals and more than 115 physician clinics. The combined network has approximately 2,600 licensed beds, 2,800 physicians on the combined active medical staffs, and 9,000 employees, with more than 70,000 admissions and 465,000 emergency department visits each year. Tennova Healthcare – Regional Jackson is owned, in part, by physicians. Learn more at www.Tennova.com.