The choice of treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the severity of symptoms. The three main treatment approaches for the condition include medication, retraining, and surgery.
Urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) is an embarrassing condition. One loses urine without meaning to or have an urge to urinate that's so sudden and strong, often triggered during activities such as coughing, sneezing or laughing.
If you have urinary incontinence, you must see a general practitioner as the condition may affect your day-to-day activities. In most cases, simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can ease the discomfort or stop urinary incontinence. If these couldn’t do, your doctor will suggest the least invasive treatments or go for behavioural techniques and physical therapy. If these treatment techniques fail, then only they move on to other options such as surgery or using medical devices.
[Read: What Causes Urinary Incontinence]
Treatment Options and Medications
The treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence, the severity of your problem and the underlying cause. Sometimes, a combination of treatments may be needed.
- Bladder training: This could be recommended alone or in combination with other treatment options, to restrict the urge and other types of incontinence. The objective of this behavioural technique is to lengthen the time between trips to the toilet. Bladder training helps one learn to empty their bladder more completely and avoid overflow incontinence. Moreover, a patient learns relaxation, breathe slowly and deeply, to distract from the activity.
- Scheduled toilet trips: You go to the toilet on a planned basis rather than waiting for the need to go.
- Fluid and diet management: Daily habits and dietary changes are made to regain control of your bladder. It usually involves cutting back on or avoiding alcohol, caffeine or acidic foods, limiting liquid foods and increasing physical activity.
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises: Kegel exercises help strengthen urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles, the muscles that help control urination. To do pelvic floor muscle exercises, one needs to squeeze the muscles to stop urinating and hold for a count of three.
- Electrical stimulation: Electrodes are temporarily inserted into your rectum or vagina to stimulate and strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
Medications such as anticholinergics, topical estrogen, imipramine and duloxetine are most commonly used to treat incontinence. These are usually used in conjunction with behavioural techniques.
Several medical devices are available to help treat urinary incontinence. Urethral insert and pessary are the two most common medical devices that help treat incontinence.
Bulking material injections, botulinum toxin type A and nerve stimulators are some of the interventional therapies that help restore your bladder function.
It is a last choice for urinary incontinence treatment. Some of the commonly used surgical procedures include sling procedures, bladder neck suspension, artificial urinary sphincter, absorbent pads and catheters, pads/protective garments and catheter.
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