A small but inconvenient leak when you laugh or sneeze. An unfortunate accident because you couldn't get to the bathroom in time. These scenarios describe one very common — and embarrassing — condition: urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control.
According to Jerome Hoeksema, MD, a urologist at Rush University Medical Center who treats both men and women with urinary incontinence, one out of 10 people experiences some form of urinary incontinence after the age of 65. But you don't have to be older than 65 to have it.
Urinary incontinence can occur for many reasons, including the following:
Although there are products available, such as absorbable pads and protective underwear, that can help with urinary incontinence, there are more long-lasting solutions — many of which are available at Rush. The first step is to seek help.
"Some people don't go to the doctor because they are embarrassed or they assume surgery is their only option, but this condition is very common and there are many ways to treat it," Hoeksema says.
Before determining a treatment plan, doctors must find the problem's source by performing a thorough physical exam, which can include the following:
Some people don't go to the doctor because they are embarrassed or they assume surgery is their only option, but this condition is very common and there are many ways to treat it.
Once the doctor identifies the type and cause of incontinence, he or she can work with you to find the best treatment approach. This could include diet changes and other behavioral strategies, medications (including those to relax the bladder) or one of the more than 200 different types of surgeries.
Here are some common approaches used by doctors at Rush:
"Whatever the cause," Hoeksema says, "if you suffer from incontinence, just remember that you are not alone and there are options."
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