Continence Care: Frequently Asked Questions
Is incontinence a disease?
No. It is a medical problem involving the lower urinary tract.
Isn't incontinence usually a problem associated with aging?
No. Urinary incontinence can have a variety of causes. Some physical problems common to older adults can lead to urinary incontinence. But it is important to know that urinary incontinence does not automatically go hand-in-hand with getting older. Some medicines such as those used for a cold or high blood pressure can cause urine leakage.
Does incontinence require surgery to correct?
Not always. Non-surgical treatments such as medication, physical therapy and behavior modification are often very successful in treating continence issues.
Is the problem different for men than for women?
There are continence problems that are unique to women, such as pelvic prolapse, a condition in which the pelvic muscles and ligaments become weak, causing the bladder and uterus to drop. Patients with this condition may feel a bulge in the vaginal opening or have difficulty moving their bowels.
Men may experience overflow incontinence due to an enlarged prostate or narrowing of the urethra from scar tissue. Symptoms include a urine stream that starts and stops, a weak urine stream, or a need to strain while urinating.
This is such an embarrassing issue. How should I deal with it?
For most people, incontinence is very treatable. Hiding from the problem only leads to bigger problems and a reduced quality of life. There is no good reason to live with incontinence when treatment is readily available. Talking with a physician trained to treat this condition will, at the very least, educate you on your options.
How do I know when I should call a doctor?
Symptoms of incontinence that should be brought to your physician’s attention include:
- Urinating more than eight times during an average day.
- Waking to urinate more than once after falling asleep.
- Rushing to the bathroom in fear of losing urine.
- Worrying about locating a bathroom when out of the home.