Urinary incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging. Although aging is a risk factor, it can occur in younger adults due to a variety of reasons. The good news is if you have incontinence, you don’t have to just live with it. There are several treatment options, which may be effective. The best treatment for you may depend on the type of incontinence, cause and severity. Below are various options.
Behavioral Training and Lifestyle Changes
Behavior training can involve things, such as dietary changes and pelvic floor muscle exercises. Dietary changes may include eliminating caffeinated drinks, which may irritate the bladder.
Pelvic floor exercises may also help improve the strength of the muscles that control the flow of urine. Timed voiding is another strategy that may be useful. It involves having set, frequent times to use the restroom.
Medication may be recommended when behavior training and lifestyle changes don’t improve incontinence. There are different classifications of medications that may be utilized depending on the type of incontinence a person has. Some common classifications of medications include:
- Anticholinergics: This type of medicine works by calming an overactive bladder. It may be most helpful in treating people with urge incontinence.
- Alpha Blockers: Alpha blockers may be used in men who have incontinence due to prostate problems. The medication relaxes the muscles in the neck of the bladder to improve urine flow.
- Topical Estrogen: Topical estrogen may be used in women with incontinence. It may help improve the tissue in the urethra and decrease symptoms of incontinence.
Nerve stimulation may be an option when medication and behavior changes don’t help incontinence. During nerve stimulation, a mild electrical current is delivered to the nerves in the pelvic floor muscles or lower back that play a role in urination. Some types of nerve stimulation can be self-administered over several weeks at home.
Bulking agents may be recommended in some instances. A bulking agent is a synthetic material, which is injected into the tissue near the urethra. The material prevents urine leakage by helping the urethra stay closed.
Botox may also be an option for people with an overactive bladder. It relaxes the muscles of the bladder and decreases the urge to go. With both bulking agents and Botox, the injections need to be repeated periodically.
SurgerySurgery for incontinence is usually the last resort to treat the condition. It may be used in some people when other treatments have failed. There are different procedures, which may be performed depending on the cause. Keep in mind, not all people with incontinence will be a candidate for surgery. The risks of surgery versus the benefits also should be considered.