Urinary incontinence affects one-quarter to one-third of American adults
and affects more women than men. While incontinence is more common in elderly adults, it can indicate underlying health conditions in adults at any age. Urinary incontinence can also severely impact a person’s quality of life, restricting the ability to travel, exercise, and carry out normal daily activities because of the possibility of unexpected bladder leakages.
If you experience bladder leakages associated with incontinence, finding the best incontinence underwear for leakage protection can be a good start to managing your symptoms – but did you know there are therapies designed to treat your symptoms directly? Keep reading to learn more.
One popular incontinence protection method is the use of incontinence pads and underwear. There is a range of pads and protective underwear on the market that can help those with urinary incontinence participate in normal activities like shopping, recreating, traveling, exercising, and more without having to worry about leakages.
Absorbent pads are typically available at drugstores and supermarkets, while both pads and incontinence underwear can also be purchased online. These products not only help prevent messes and discomfort but also provide odor control. Finding the best incontinence underwear for you may require some trial and error, but many people prefer them to disposable pads because they’re washable and reusable
Absorbent pads and incontinence underwear can greatly improve your quality of life, but they obviously do nothing to address the root cause of your incontinence symptoms. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for preventing leakages associated with urinary incontinence, depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Better solutions for incontinence
Urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of bladder control
. In a healthy patient, when the bladder becomes full, the brain communicates with the muscles around the bladder and urethra to control the release of urine. Bladder leakages can occur when communication between the brain and bladder is abnormal or when the pelvic muscles have been weakened due to age, disease, or a medical event.
Several treatment options exist to treat these bladder leakages, but in order to choose the right one, it’s crucial to understand the underlying cause of your symptoms as well as the type of incontinence you experience.
Different types of urinary incontinence
- Urge incontinence: when a person experiences a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by the involuntary loss or leakage of urine
- Stress incontinence: bladder leakage caused by pressure on the bladder, e.g., from coughing, laughing, sneezing, exercising, bending over, standing up, or lifting something heavy; or from gender-related health issues such as pregnancy in women or prostate surgery in men
- Mixed incontinence: a combination of both urge incontinence and stress incontinence
What causes urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence has a wide range of potential causes and risk factors
. This includes infections (such as urinary tract infections), diseases (such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s), medications, body weight, smoking, and gender-related health issues, such as pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and hysterectomies in women or prostate problems in men.
Urinary incontinence is also one of the primary symptoms of overactive bladder
, or OAB, a chronic condition that affects approximately 50 million Americans and includes the frequent and urgent need to empty your bladder. Other common symptoms of OAB include frequency (having to urinate 8 or more times per day) and nocturia (waking up more than one time per night to use the restroom).
As mentioned, the first step to choosing the right treatment option is carefully diagnosing the underlying cause of your symptoms. The care pathway described in this article is relevant for patients whose OAB is not caused by another underlying health condition.
Patient care pathway for OAB-related urinary incontinence
If your bladder leakages are caused by specific medical events or health conditions such as the diseases or infections mentioned above, your doctor will need to diagnose and treat those conditions first.
However, if your OAB symptoms
are not caused by other health conditions, your doctor will likely recommend starting with behavioral interventions to try to reduce your symptoms. If behavioral interventions are not effective, you may be prescribed medications. Finally, there are advanced therapies to address incontinence that is not eliminated by behavioral or pharmaceutical treatments.
Though OAB is a chronic condition with no single cure, it is possible to actually reduce your symptoms – rather than simply managing them – through the treatment options below.
Behavioral interventions for urinary incontinence
First-line treatments for urinary incontinence
typically address lifestyle and behavior. Only if these interventions prove unsuccessful will doctors recommend medications or advanced therapies.
Common behavioral/lifestyle treatments include keeping a bladder diary to track your symptoms and triggers, bladder training (including scheduled bathroom breaks and delayed urination
) to restore bladder control, pelvic floor or Kegel exercises to strengthen the bladder muscles, and dietary and fluid monitoring to reduce trigger foods and fluids (such as caffeinated drinks or alcohol).
Medications for urinary incontinence
Several medications exist
to treat bladder leakages in the event that behavioral interventions do not resolve symptoms. However, medications typically have side effects, so it’s important to consider your age, medical history, and other medications you may take.
Advanced therapies for urinary incontinence
When behavioral interventions and medication are not enough, doctors may recommend advanced therapies such as Botox injection or electrical stimulation
to nerves involved in brain-bladder communication, such as the sacral nerve. This is the mechanism of The Axonics System, in which a minimally invasive implant delivers remote-controlled electrical signals to the sacral nerve to restore normal bladder functioning.
Learn more about Axonics
Finding the best incontinence underwear can be a huge improvement for patients with bladder leakages, but incontinence doesn’t have to be a normal part of your life. With an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of your symptoms, you can pursue better solutions that could reduce your symptoms. If you have OAB-related urinary incontinence, learn more about how Sacral Nueromodulation therapy can help
Disclaimer: Axonics does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.