Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is a common form of urinary incontinence that occurs when you get an uncontrollable urge to urinate and you can’t hold on for more than a few minutes once you feel the urge to go.

It is usually due to involuntary or overactive bladder contractions. If you suffer from urge incontinence, rest assured you are far from alone.

We all know that sudden, awful feeling of panic when the urge to wee is so overwhelming that it takes every ounce of self control to prevent a little accident from occurring.

Urge incontinence is the second most common variety of urinary incontinence after stress incontinence. Women are more likely to suffer from urge incontinence than men are. This type of incontinence occurs when your bladder seems to develop a mind of its own and starts pushing out urine without you wanting it to, leaving you little or no time to make it to the bathroom. Sometimes urge incontinence can result in leaking considerable amounts of wee and this might even happen when you are asleep.

What happens when your bladder doesn’t do as it’s told?

Much like overflow incontinence, urge incontinence is the result of your bladder misbehaving. When your bladder is fully functioning and doing its job properly, the bladder muscle is generally relaxed, even while the bladder is filling. When it gets to about 50% full, you may start to feel that familiar urge to use the toilet.

Once you feel the need to go, you still have some time to get to the bathroom in a leisurely fashion. However, if you’re suffering from urge incontinence, you may not always make it in time. This is because the bladder seems to get its wires crossed. The brain sends a message to the bladder telling it to contract even though it is not particularly full. As a result you will suddenly need to use the toilet.

So it makes sense that one of the reasons that urge incontinence may develop without any apparent medical reason is that the part of the brain that controls urination may have undergone changes that is impairing the way your bladder functions.

What causes urge incontinence?

In some women the cause of urge incontinence remains a baffling mystery and the sufferer is otherwise healthy in every way. However, the causes of urge incontinence vary from minor problems, such as bladder infections and major problems such as neurological diseases and injuries.

Here’s a rundown of the serious conditions that may cause urge incontinence:

  • UTI’s (urinary tract infections)
  • Bladder stones
  • Parkinsons disease
  • Alzheimers disease
  • Stroke
  • Constipation
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Spinal cord damage

Whatever the cause of your urge incontinence, don’t be tempted to self-diagnose or go into denial or simply hope it goes away. Because there could be a serious underlying cause of your urge incontinence, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor so the problem can be diagnosed and treated by an expert.

If your doctor can’t find anything seriously wrong, your urge incontinence may be called an overactive bladder or unstable bladder. Regardless of the cause, though, your doctor can explain the excellent treatment options that are out there and discuss which one is good for you.

Treating and dealing with urge incontinence

Just because you have urge incontinence doesn’t mean that you have to check the location of toilets wherever you go, or take spare pairs of undies in case your bladder acts up. Depending on the severity, urge incontinence can be cured and can always be discreetly managed. – just as you deal with your period every month.

If left untreated, you may find urge incontinence undermines your social, professional and sex life, so it’s best to get treatment sooner rather than later.

Your doctor will usually start with the least invasive treatment option. To get this right, one of the main things your doctor needs to do is correctly diagnose the cause of your urge incontinence. As urge incontinence is normally a result of another underlying condition, that underlying condition needs also to be identified and treated.

Here are the most commonly used urge incontinence treatment techniques, exercises and tips.


Bladder Training

Bladder Training is a bit like a gym routine for your bladder. It’s a widely used technique to strengthen and enhance the bladder’s elasticity. Bladder training can also increase the bladder’s capacity and stop it from being ‘overactive’. This means that the time between the feeling that you need to go to the toilet and actually going can be increased.

The most important aspect of bladder training is striving to gradually increase the amount of time between your visits to the bathroom. For example, if you discover you go to the bathroom every hour, try hold on for an extra 5 minutes, then an extra 10 minutes and so on. The longer the interval you can achieve between feeling the urge to urinate and actually going to the toilet, the greater your bladder’s capacity will become.

The optimum amount of times to urinate in 24 hours is between 5-6 times (or every 3-4 hours) for an average person. 

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises work wonders for the muscles supporting all the organs in your pelvic region, including your bladder. Essentially these exercises help strengthen the muscle tissue surrounding the bladder and may help alleviate an overactive bladder.

You may feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of wee when you go to the toilet. To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles squeeze the muscles 10-15 times in a row. Try to avoid holding your breath, or tightening your stomach, buttocks or thighs. Do this routine several times a day, every day.

The beauty of these special exercises is that you can do them anywhere: at your desk at work; on the telephone; surfing the net; walking down the street. If that isn’t enough to get you doing them every spare moment, think of this: as well as helping with urge incontinence, a tight, strong pelvic floor is must-have equipment for a great sex life too. 

Lifestyle Changes to lessen the severity of urge incontinence are mostly simple and straightforward.

They include the following:

  • Make the route to your toilet as easy and simple as possible
  • Try avoiding caffeine as much as possible. Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it will make you pee more. It can also irritate your bladder. 
  • Try and reduce or cut out other foods which can irritate your bladder such as fizzy soft drinks, citrus fruits and juices and spicy foods.
  • Although this might seem counter-intuitive, don’t cut down on the amount of liquid you drink. If you do this, your urine may become concentrated which can also irritate your bladder
  • Try only going to the toilet when you really need to. If you go too often your bladder may become used to holding less and less urine
  • Being overweight may increase the severity of urge incontinence. If you can, make a special effort to lose some weight by keeping fit and active and eating a healthy balanced diet.

    Also, good food is essential for helping muscles to heal, develop and perform at their best, so it’s vital that you get plenty of nutrients to support your pelvic floor exercises.

There are treatments for serious cases of urge incontinence

If there is a serious underlying cause, there are medical treatments available, including:

  • Medication: If a bladder infection is found a doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics. A group of medicines called antimuscarinics have been found to be effective in combating urge incontinence. These medications block certain nerve impulses, which in turn relax involuntary bladder contractions and help improve bladder function. Normally medication is used in conjunction with one or more of the other urge incontinence treatments. Before starting a course of medication make sure you talk with your health care professional to ensure it is right for you. 
  • Surgery: Surgery can be fairly effective in treating urge incontinence. Either the surgery is performed to increase the size of the bladder or reduce the activity of the bladder. In most cases, surgery is a last resort option if all other incontinence treatment options have failed.

How common is urge incontinence?

The experts put the number of people worldwide suffering from urge incontinence at between 50 and 100 million, which is a comforting fact if you suffer from an overactive bladder.

So remember you aren’t alone. Urge incontinence can cause a load of embarrassment, inconvenience, stress and disruption to anyone suffering from this inconvenient condition but there is help available.

With the treatment outlined, along with Poise products for discreet and superior protection, plus advice from your doctor, urge incontinence can be cured and always managed.

Previous Article

Overflow Incontinence

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