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A healthier bladder

Published Date:

An estimated 25 million American adults experience urinary incontinence, which is the involuntary loss of urine from the bladder or the inability to control urination. While this group of conditions can affect anyone, urinary incontinence is most common in women older than 50. 

As area leaders in urology care and research, our multidisciplinary team at SIU Medicine has helped thousands of women throughout the region find answers and relief from their bladder concerns. 

Types of urinary incontinence and its symptoms

Several types of urinary incontinence exist, including urge incontinence (being unable to control leaking of urine with the urge to urinate), stress incontinence (leaking urine with cough, sneeze, laugh, and/or exercise), a mix of both urge and stress incontinence, overflow (leaking of urine due to the bladder becoming overly full), and unconscious (leaking urine without realizing that it is happening). 

Urinary incontinence symptoms can vary from woman to woman, but they often include:

  • Leaking with a sudden urge to urinate
  • Leaking urine with physical exertion, such as walking, running, sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting, bending, and moving from lying to sitting and sitting to standing
  • Feeling of not fully emptying the bladder
  • Constant feeling of wetness

As you can imagine, the consequences of urinary incontinence can have a tremendous impact on a woman's quality of life.

Aside from increasing the risk of urinary tract infections and/or skin problems, acute or chronic incontinence can also cause women to avoid certain activities because of fear of urinary leakage. They also may struggle with embarrassment and body image problems that could affect their work and personal lives.

What are the risk factors for urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is common among females of all ages. It is more prevalent among older women due to physiologic changes that happen with advancing age. Some risk factors:

  • Postmenopausal changes, formally known as Genitourinary syndrome of menopause
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Weakness of the pelvic floor muscles
  • Use of certain medications
  • Diseases or injuries, including diabetes and neurological conditions 
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Family history

For some women, incontinence can develop as a result of functional impairments that make it difficult to physically get to a toilet on time.

Getting relief from urinary incontinence and prevention

If you or someone you know has urinary incontinence, it's important to seek professional medical attention. There are more options for relief than you may realize. 

At SIU Medicine, our women's health and urology experts provide a wide range of treatments for women of all backgrounds experiencing incontinence. Treatment options vary, depending on each woman's underlying condition. 

  • Pelvic floor strengthening exercises
  • Biofeedback techniques (to increase awareness of pelvic floor muscle activation)
  • Behavioral modification strategies, including bladder training and timed voiding 
  • Dietary modifications
  • Medications, including bladder Botox injections
  • Percutaneous Nerve Stimulation Therapy

In rare cases, surgery might be necessary. Talk to your doctor about which types of incontinence treatments are right for you.

In the meantime, we encourage our patients to practice bladder-healthy habits such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating a fiber-rich diet, maintaining health bowel function, and avoiding foods and drinks that can irritate the bladder (including caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods).

Frustrated by incontinence?

Are you a woman experiencing bladder incontinence? You should not feel embarrassed about your current struggles. Contact SIU Medicine today at 217-545-8000 to schedule an appointment with one of our urologists and get access to some of the latest advances in urology care. 

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