Urinary Incontinence in Adults: Causes, Treatment and More

February 21, 2019
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Having to relieve ourselves is a basic need. Therefore, it always makes sense to be familiar with the location of the nearest restroom. However, for a person who suffers from urinary incontinence, being close to a lavatory is sometimes inconsequential. They may get the urge to “go”, but before they have time to get to the toilet, they realize it’s too late.

It’s embarrassing, disheartening, and leaves them and their loved ones wondering what, if anything, they can do about it. It may have been a one-off occurrence, or it may be a new condition they’ll have to learn to live with.

What is Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is not a disease, it is a symptom. Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine due to an inability to control the bladder. It can range from a few drops of urine leaking out when a patient laughs, sneezes, or coughs, to losing a full bladder at any time.

While it does occur more often with senior citizens, it is not an inherent characteristic of aging.

4 Most Common Types of Incontinence

1. Urge Incontinence

This is the most common type of Incontinence. Also known as overactive bladder, urge incontinence feels exactly the way it sounds: The patient feels an urgent need to urinate, with an inability to hold it in. It occurs more often in patients with degenerative conditions, such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s Disease.

2. Stress Incontinence

This type of incontinence occurs when there’s pressure on the bladder, such as when sneezing, laughing, coughing, wearing tight clothing, or strapping a seatbelt on too tight.

3. Overflow Incontinence

Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder doesn’t fully empty. As a result, there’s a constant urge to urinate, which results in leaks or dribblings of urine.

4. Mixed Incontinence

Sometimes, a patient can experience more than one type of incontinence. This is known as mixed incontinence.

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

The symptoms of urinary incontinence are very obvious to the patient:

  • Sudden, urgent need to urinate
  • Need to urinate often
  • Leaked urine when laughing, sneezing, or coughing
  • Feeling a more urgent need to urinate when pressing the bladder
  • Involuntary loss of urine

Diagnosis and Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

The good news is that incontinence is treatable. However, when diagnosing, a medical provider typically orders a urine test to rule out an infection.

It’s also standard to conduct blood tests to ensure the kidneys function properly, a pelvic exam for women, and a urological exam for men.

Treatment includes medication, Kegel exercises, hormone replacement therapy, a pessary, or urethral inserts. In rare cases, and as a last resort, the patient may require surgery.

Managing Incontinence

There are steps to take in managing urinary incontinence:

1. Seek Medical Attention

While incontinence may be embarrassing, the condition is treatable. It’s important to seek medical advice to rule out any underlying illnesses or conditions, such as skin rashes or urinary tract infections.

2. Purchase Bladder Control Products

While you may be thinking “adult diapers”, there are alternatives such as liners or disposable underwear.

3. Stay Hydrated

While drinking too much water sounds counterintuitive, dehydration can make urine more concentrated, which can irritate the bladder and cause a sudden urge to urinate.

4. Schedule Bathroom Trips

Even if you don’t feel that you have to “go”, emptying the bladder regularly can help prevent involuntarily urinating when the bladder is full.

Risk Factors for Developing Urinary Incontinence

Many conditions increase the likelihood of urinary incontinence in adults. The most common include:

  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Hysterectomy
  • Menopause
  • Enlarged Prostate
  • Diabetes
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Being Overweight or Obese
  • Family History

Urinary Incontinence and Alzheimer’s Disease

Incontinence is common in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease for various reasons: Forgetting where the bathrooms are located, forgetting to take incontinence medication, and in the late stages of the illness, forgetting how to recognize the urge to relieve oneself. This is the case with both urinary incontinence and bowel movements.

Since incontinence is common in patients with Alzheimer’s, you, as a caregiver, have to be proactive in making the situation more bearable for your loved one.

  • Limit fluid intake before bedtime
  • Always leave the bathroom door open
  • Place absorbent pads on the mattress
  • Purchase disposable underwear
  • Add grab bars near the toilet
  • Raise the toilet seat if it’s difficult to sit down or get back up
  • When going out of the house, bring along wipes and an extra set of clothes
  • If they constantly feel the need to urinate, get tested for a urinary tract infection
  • During the latter stages, go into the bathroom with them and assist them to the toilet

No matter how frustrated you get, always treat them with respect and compassion. Don’t ask them why they didn’t let you know they needed to use the restroom. Accidents happen.

Urinary Incontinence Prevention

While urinary incontinence is sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of developing the condition:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Treat urinary tract infections
  • Avoid bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, and acidic foods
  • Quit smoking

If You or a Loved One has been Diagnosed with Incontinence, Contact Us for Assistance.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with incontinence, let us help you. At Care Options for Kids, we have an entire team of experienced caregivers to ensure the wellbeing of our patients.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.