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What’s normal? This issue can be addressed

Jordan Reeder

What’s “normal” as you age?

Even though urinary incontinence increases with age, it should not be considered “normal” or “part of getting old.”

Urinary incontinence is a very common problem among both men and women and can vary in severity and frequency. If the accidental loss of urine is in a small amount and occurs infrequently — say, once a month — it does not have much of an effect on quality of life. However, if it occurs more often, it can start affecting multiple aspects of life such as emotional distress, social activities, physical activities, traveling, work, and sexual life.

There are different types of incontinence, including stress and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence is leakage as a result of activity that increases abdominal pressure such as coughing, laughing, sneezing, weight training, exercising, etc. It is caused by weakness in the pelvic floor muscles that hold the bladder and the urethra.

Risk factors include childbirth, genetic, obesity, smoking, chronic cough or constipation. The good news is there are very effective treatments that restore support to the bladder and urethra. Some recommendations your provider may have include weight loss, pelvic floor therapy or possibly even surgery or procedures to address the issue.

Urgency incontinence is the leakage of urine with the feeling of urgency — the sensation of a strong urge to urinate. It oftentimes occurs in individuals with overactive bladder (OAB), when the bladder muscle is overactive and squeezes too often. These bladder spasms make it feel like you need to urinate often and quickly, even if there isn’t much urine in the bladder.

Treatment includes one or a combination of: lifestyle and diet modifications, bladder training with timed voiding, physical therapy, medications, Botox in the bladder and nerve stimulation.

The most important message here is that bladder-control problems, even though they occur more frequently with age, are not a “normal part of getting older.”

If you have any questions or concerns about urinary leakage, please call UnityPoint Clinic Urology at (515) 574-8490.

Jordan Reeder, ARNP

UnityPoint Clinic Urology — Fort Dodge