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Urge Incontinence: The Case of the Overactive Bladder

Urgency is a word which describes a pressing necessity, like there is a need to do something immediately. It is a normal feeling to have most especially in situations that are of utmost importance. Paying the electricity bill that has been long overdue, or finishing a business report that will be presented during a board meeting --- these are only a few examples of urgent matters that we cannot afford to delay. But if a person feels the urge to pass water, a urinary problem might be involved. Most people need to pass water every three to four hours during the day and up to once or twice in the night. For normal urination, the muscular wall of the bladder has to contract at the same time as a valve mechanism at the outlet of the bladder relaxes.

Urge incontinence is a urinary problem characterized by a sudden uncontrollable urge to urinate and frequent urination. It is often necessary to use the bathroom as frequently as every two hours and bed wetting is common. With urge incontinence, the bladder contracts and squeezes out urine involuntarily. Sometimes a large amount of urine is released. With urge incontinence, the bladder contracts and squeezes out urine involuntarily.

Sometimes a large amount of urine is released. Accidental urination can be triggered by sudden change in position or activity, hearing or touching running water and drinking a small amount of liquid. Urge incontinence occurs when a person experiences a strong desire to empty the bladder, followed almost immediately by an involuntary loss of urine. People with urge incontinence complain of urgency with little or no warning, and may experience troublesome symptoms such as not reaching the toilet in time, a frequent need to urinate, passing of urine several times during the night, and bedwetting. The volume of urine loss varies from small to large amounts depending on bladder capacity. The most common cause of urge incontinence is inappropriate bladder contractions. Two bladder abnormalities commonly cause the disorder. The most common is a neurogenic bladder (overactive type), which is caused by brain injury or spinal cord injury or disease that interrupts nerve conduction above the sacrum and results in loss of bladder sensation and motor control. Medical professionals describe such a bladder as “unstable,” or “overactive.” A doctor might call the condition “reflex incontinence” if it results from overactive nerves controlling the bladder.

Urge incontinence can mean that the bladder empties during sleep, after drinking a small amount of water, or when one touches water or hear it running like when someone else is taking a shower or washing dishes. There are several neurological diseases and disorders associated with a neurogenic bladder, including the following: Alzheimer's disease Multiple sclerosis Parkinson's disease Ruptured intervertebral disk Stroke Syphilis Traumatic brain or upper spinal cord injury Tumors located in the brain or spinal cord Urge incontinence can also be cause by a bladder infection. Diabetes can cause excessive production of urine and very frequent trips to the toilet. Involuntary actions of bladder muscles can occur because of damage to the nerves of the bladder, to the nervous system (spinal cord and brain), or to muscles themselves. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, brain tumors, and other types of that occurs during surgery can harm bladder nerves or muscles. Other causes for urge incontinence include atrophic vaginitis, diet, caffeine, and carbonated beverages. Spicy foods, and tomato-based foods can also irritate the bladder and cause muscle instability in some patients which can result to urge incontinence. Treatment with bladder retraining often cures the problem. Medication may also be advised to relax the bladder. Advice from a continence advisor is also usually helpful.


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