Urinary urgency is a symptom where you get a sudden urgent desire to pass urine and you are not able to put off going to the toilet. If you leak urine before you go to the toilet this is called incontinence. Medicines for urinary urgency and incontinence are used to decrease the number of urine leakages, the number of trips to the toilet and the feeling of urgency. These medicines are usually prescribed if other treatments such as pelvic floor exercises have not worked.
By Dr. Mercola
Millions of people experience problems with urination, ranging from incontinence and urgency to nighttime urination. The severity of these symptoms can be mild or debilitating, causing embarrassment or anxiety that keeps people from socializing and enjoying their lives.
Yet, no study has ever determined which lower urinary tract symptom (LUTS) is the most bothersome. Many researchers have simply cited their own area of interest as the most troublesome, shedding little light on which urinary symptoms are in need of the most attention.
Researchers from Finland have changed that, however, with a study that gets to the bottom of bladder symptoms among men and women of all ages.
A Closer Look at Some of the Most Common Urinary Symptoms
You've probably heard of the term “overactive bladder,” which refers to symptoms such as urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and having urge incontinence, or accidents. It has become a buzzword in recent years as pharmaceutical companies began promoting medications to treat this recently coined condition, urging (primarily) women to seek “help.”
Not only are many cases of “overactive bladder” mild – i.e. not requiring treatment – but the term itself may be problematic, according to Tikkinen, who noted:
“It implies that the cause of the symptoms lies in the bladder, even though this is often not the case.”
Certain drugs for overactive bladder (anticholinergics) work by relaxing your bladder muscle to reduce urinary urgency, frequency, and accidents. These drugs may cause side effects like blurred vision, constipation, faster heartbeat, drowsiness, confusion, and memory loss while doing nothing to treat the underlying cause of your urinary troubles. Common causes of urinary symptoms include:
- Stress Incontinence (leaking urine while laughing, coughing, sneezing, etc.): This is often caused by physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.
- Urge Incontinence (leaking urine after feeling a sudden urge to urinate): This may be caused by abnormal nerve signals that cause bladder spasms and may be associated with certain medical conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Other health conditions may also impact your bladder nerves and muscles, leading to urge incontinence. This includes multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and injury.
- Overactive Bladder: This may be caused by abnormal nerves sending signals to your bladder at the wrong time, causing it to contract and leading to frequent urination, urgency, incontinence, and nighttime urination.
- Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Men: These may include urinary hesitancy, weak stream, dribbling or leaking, along with more frequent urination (especially at night). These symptoms may be caused by an enlarged prostate that affects the flow of urine.
6 Natural Methods for Treating Urinary Symptoms
If you're struggling with urinary symptoms that are interfering with your life, the following methods can be very effective:
- Do Kegels: More women than men might be familiar with this term. A Kegel squeeze is performed by drawing your lower pelvic muscles up and holding them up high and tight. For men who aren't familiar with that term, it's similar to trying to stop urinating in the middle of the flow. This can help to strengthen the muscles that help you hold in and control the flow of urine. Kegels can also help you suppress the need to urinate if you have trouble with frequency.
- Keep a Bladder Diary: This will help you become familiar with your bathroom habits so you can identify a pattern. It may help you develop a plan to visit the bathroom at timed intervals to avoid accidents, as well as help you strategically increase time between bathroom trips as you gain control.
- Bladder Training: The bladder diary is often one step of bladder training, which involves visiting the restroom according to a fixed schedule. When you feel the need to urinate before a scheduled visit, practice Kegels or relaxation exercises like deep breathing to suppress the urge.
- Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment or Chiropractic Adjustments: Research has shown that osteopathic manipulative treatment provided virtually the same therapeutic effect as pelvic floor muscle training (Kegels) in women with lower urinary tract disorders.
- Limiting Fluids at Certain Times of the Day: If you're getting up during the night to urinate, stop drinking three to four hours before bedtime. Coffee, tea, and alcohol should also be restricted.
- Enlarged Prostate: Men, if you believe an enlarged prostate is causing your urinary symptoms, read these tips for maintaining a healthy prostate.
If you only experience occasional incontinence, wearing a thin absorbent pad may help give you confidence and allow you to go about with your daily schedule without fears of embarrassment. But, ideally, try the safe options above so that you can fully recover. Remember, this is a very common problem that can often be effectively treated, naturally. As the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) put it:
“…many women are afraid to mention their problem. They may have urinary incontinence that can improve with treatment but remain silent sufferers and resort to wearing absorbent undergarments, or diapers. This practice is unfortunate, because diapering can lead to diminished self-esteem, as well as skin irritation and sores. If you are relying on diapers to manage your incontinence, you and your family should discuss with your doctor the possible effectiveness of treatments such as timed voiding and pelvic muscle exercises.”
Medicines for urinary urgency and incontinence are used to decrease, the number of urine leakages, the number of trips to the toilet and the feeling of urgency. For people with stress incontinence a medicine called duloxetine may be prescribed. This medicine is normally used to treat depression. However, it was found to help with stress incontinence separate to its effect on depression. It is thought to work by interfering with certain chemicals that are used in transmitting nerve impulses to muscles. This helps the muscles around the urethra to contract more strongly.
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