Although it becomes more common with age, urinary incontinence can affect people at all ages. Talking about incontinence can be embarrassing for both men and women, but it is important that patients speak to their doctors about this issue. Incontinence can be caused by serious underlying medical issues that a doctor should diagnose or rule out. The time to see a urologist about urinary incontinence is when it begins to negatively affect quality of life.
The first thing a urologist does is determine if the patient has stress incontinence or urge incontinence. They are treated differently so it is important to accurately identify the problem. The doctor will do a bladder pressure test by inserting a catheter to run water into the bladder and then examine how it reacts. The doctor will then check the bladder itself to see if it has fallen in any way. Finally, there will be an exam to see if there are any obstructions like kidney stones or tumors that are causing irritation or incontinence.
Once the type of incontinence is determined, the urologist can discuss the best treatment. Stress incontinence can often be relieved with pelvic floor exercises that build up muscle strength in the bladder and urethra. Urge incontinence can sometimes be treated with lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and smoking. Newer medications have been developed that offer incontinence relief with little or no side effects. These medications target the nerves in the bladder and have been shown to decrease urinary urgency, discomfort and leakage.
Although the initial conversation may be difficult for women to have with their doctor, it is important to remember that urinary incontinence is a common issue for which medical relief is available. Urologists at the Advanced Urology Institute are experienced in listening to their patients and prescribing what is best for their individual urinary issues. For more information, visit the Advanced Urology Institute website.