Urinary incontinence: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment


Urinary incontinence is a situation characterized by the involuntary loss of urine that can happen as a result of the weakening of the bladder and/or pelvic floor muscles due to pregnancy or diseases, neurological changes or happen when there is some type of effort, such as during activities physical, coughing or sneezing, for example.

This situation can happen in both men and women, being more often observed in women, especially in older people, due to the natural weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.

In most cases, urinary incontinence can be controlled through changes in habits, but depending on the frequency of leakage, the doctor may recommend the use of medication or surgery.

Symptoms of urinary incontinence

The main symptom of urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of a small amount of urine, which can happen when you move, cough, sneeze or practice physical activity, for example, and may or may not be accompanied by an urgent urge to urinate. , so that it is not possible to reach the bathroom in time, and there may also be, in some cases, a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bladder.

As a result of the loss of urine, the person may feel uncomfortable, have low self-esteem, avoid socializing with other people and feel more anxious and/or depressed.

Types of urinary incontinence

Incontinence can be classified into some main types according to the way in which the involuntary loss of urine occurs, the main ones being:

  • Stress urinary incontinence or SUIin which the loss of urine occurs when the person exercises, laughs or coughs, for example;
  • Urge urinary incontinence or UUIwhich is characterized by leakage of urine that is accompanied by an urgent urge to urinate, so that the person cannot reach the bathroom in time;
  • mixed urinary incontinencewhich corresponds to the combination of stress and urgency urinary incontinence;
  • Overflow urinary incontinencewhich happens when the bladder is too full, resulting in the loss of small amounts of urine throughout the day, and may also be accompanied by the feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder.

It is important to observe the moment when the loss of urine occurs and if there are any associated signs or symptoms, so that it is possible for the doctor to identify the cause associated with urinary incontinence and, thus, it is possible to start treatment, if necessary. . In addition, to confirm incontinence and identify the cause, the doctor may recommend performing a urodynamic test, which allows you to assess the contraction of the urinary muscles during urination.

Nocturnal Enuresis

Nocturnal enuresis is a type of urinary incontinence that occurs in children over 5 years of age, in which the child involuntarily loses urine during the night, wetting the bed. Learn more about nocturnal enuresis.

Main causes

Urinary incontinence can happen as a consequence of some situations, which may or may not be related to the autonomic nervous system, which is the system responsible for controlling the elimination of urine. Thus, the main causes of urinary incontinence:

  • Pregnancy;
  • Post childbirth;
  • Obesity;
  • Practice of physical activity;
  • Chronic cough, mainly seen in people who smoke;
  • sneezing
  • Presence of tumors;
  • Overactive bladder;
  • Surgical procedures that may interfere with sphincter nerves or pelvic floor muscles;
  • Neurological diseases;
  • Diseases that compromise the bladder or increase abdominal pressure.

In addition, urinary incontinence is easier to occur in older people due to the natural weakening of the pelvic floor muscle, which favors involuntary loss of urine.

How is the treatment done?

In most cases it is not necessary to undergo treatment for urinary incontinence, it is only recommended to change some habits, such as avoiding drinking too much fluid at night and urinating more frequently. However, in cases where incontinence is frequent, causes discomfort and interferes with the person’s quality of life, it is important that the doctor is consulted so that the most appropriate treatment can be initiated, which may vary according to the cause and intensity of the symptoms. symptoms.

One of the treatment options is physical therapy which aims to strengthen the muscles of the bladder and pelvic floor, preventing the loss of urine throughout the day. In addition, the doctor may recommend the use of anticholinergic drugs that act by preventing vesical contraction, that is, the elimination of urine through the bladder, such as Desmopressin, Oxybutin and Imipramine, which must be used according to medical advice, in addition to specific medications according to the cause associated with incontinence.

In cases where changes in habits and the use of medication, the doctor may recommend surgery to strengthen the ligaments of the urethra and favor its closure during exertion, avoiding incontinence, in addition to the application of botulinum toxin in some cases.

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