Solutions for Bladder Control
While it can happen to anyone, problems with bladder control or “urinary incontinence” is more common in older people. Women are more likely than men to have incontinence. If this problem is happening to you, there is help. Incontinence can often be cured or controlled. Talk to your doctor about what you can do.
Causes of Incontinence
Incontinence is often seen as part of aging, but it can occur for many other reasons. For example, urinary tract infections, vaginal infection or irritation, constipation, and some medicines can cause bladder control problems that last a short time. When incontinence lasts longer, it may be due to:
- Weak bladder muscles
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Damage to nerves that control the bladder from diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
- Diseases such as arthritis that may make it difficult to get to the bathroom in time
- Blockage from an enlarged prostate in men
Talk To Your Doctor
The first step in treating incontinence is to see your doctor. If you are having difficulty controlling your bladder it is important to talk to your doctor. Most doctors are used to talking about personal matters that may feel embarrassing. A good doctor will treat your concerns seriously and try to ease any discomfort you have about discussing sensitive topics.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the medicines you use. He or she will want to know if you have been sick recently or had surgery. Your doctor also may do a number of tests. These might include:
- Urine and blood tests
- Tests that measure how well you empty your bladder
In addition, your doctor may ask you to keep a daily diary of when you urinate and when you leak urine.
Types of Incontinence
There are different types of urinary incontinence:
Stress incontinence happens when urine leaks as pressure is put on the bladder, for example, during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects.
Urge incontinence happens when people have a sudden need to urinate and aren’t able to hold their urine long enough to get to the toilet in time.
Overflow incontinence happens when small amounts of urine leak from a bladder that is always full. A man can have trouble emptying his bladder if an enlarged prostate is blocking the urethra.
Functional incontinence happens in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just have a problem getting to the toilet because of arthritis or other disorders that make it hard to move quickly.
Today, there are more treatments for urinary incontinence than ever before. The choice of treatment depends on the type of bladder control problem you have, how serious it is, and what best fits your lifestyle.
Your doctor may suggest bladder training to help you get better control of your bladder. With bladder training, you can change how your body stores and releases urine.
Common Bladder Control Solutions
- Pelvic muscle exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) - work the muscles that you use to stop urinating. Making these muscles stronger helps you hold urine in your bladder longer.
- Biofeedback - uses sensors to make you aware of signals from your body. This may help you regain control over the muscles in your bladder and urethra.
- Timed voiding - may help you control your bladder. In timed voiding, you urinate on a set schedule, for example, every hour. You can slowly extend the time between bathroom trips.
- Lifestyle changes - may help with incontinence, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, drinking less caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and many sodas), preventing constipation, and not lifting heavy objects.
- If you suffer from urinary incontinence, tell your doctor. Remember, under a doctor’s care, incontinence can be treated and often cured. Even if treatment is not fully successful, careful management can help you feel more relaxed and confident.
How Your Plan Helps:
Coverage For An Annual Physical
All HMO members are covered for a physical exam with their Primary Care Physician (PCP) each calendar year. At an annual physical, you can discuss any concerns you have about bladder control with your doctor.
For details consult your Evidence Of Coverage (EOC). You can find the EOC booklets for our individual plans on the plan documents page of our website.
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