Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night just to use the bathroom? Or had the sensation to urinate but difficulty producing urine? You’re not alone. Urinary problems are never fun, especially since its part of such an integral part of our day-to-day.
Millions of men and women around the world unknowingly suffer from urinary problems. We’re here to share four of the most common types of urinary problems and how you can treat them today. Let’s get started.
Common Urinary Problems: Prevention & Treatments
1. Stress Incontinence
Stress incontinence is a form of urinary incontinence, or unintentional loss of urine. Though both men and women can have it, it’s most commonly found in women.
Stress incontinence is caused by the relaxation of muscles that support the bladder and regulate the release of urine. Our bladders naturally expand as they fill with urine. Normally, valve-like muscles in the urethra will stay closed as the bladder expands. However, with stress incontinence, those muscles are weakened–making it harder for muscles to stay closed.
With that, anything that exerts force on those muscles will cause the valves to leak urine, resulting in stress incontinence. This source of force can be prompted by any physical movement such as coughing, sneezing, running, or heavy lifting. It can also be caused by other factors–depending on how weak the bladder muscles are.
For women, stress incontinence can sometimes be caused by tissue and nerve damage brought on by childbirth. For men, stress incontinence can sometimes be caused by prostate surgery. Because the sphincter lies below the prostate and circles the urethra, the surgery may result in a weakened sphincter. Other causes are older age or obesity.
Prevention of stress incontinence
- Pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises that your doctor or physical therapists can teach you to do correctly)
- Fluid consumption
- Lifestyle changes (quit smoking, lose weight, treating a cough, etc.)
Treatment of stress incontinence
- Bladder Neck Bulking: An injectable therapy used to treat adult women. It works by augmenting the urethra wall, allowing more urethral resistance to urinary flow.
- Artificial Urinary Sphincter: A system that uses saline to open and close the cuff surrounding the urethra, providing a competent bladder outlet during urinary storage and an open unobstructed outlet to permit voluntary voiding.
Stress incontinence is only one of several other types of urinary incontinence. Others include urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, functional incontinence and mixed incontinence.
2. Overactive Bladder
Overactive bladder (OAB) causes the involuntary loss of urine due to a sudden urge to go when the bladder cannot properly store urine.
OAB occurs when the muscles of the bladder begin to contract involuntarily, even if the amount of urine in the bladder is low. People that suffer from OAB experience a sudden urge to urinate that’s hard to control, urine leakage (or urge incontinence), frequent urination and waking up two or more times a night to urinate.
Overactive bladder can be caused by weakened muscles of the bladder, a neurological disorder like a stroke, diabetes, an acute UTI, excess caffeine or alcohol, aging, and tumors or bladder stones.
Prevention of OAB
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Participate in daily physical activity
- Limit caffeine consumption
- Manage chronic illnesses like Diabetes
Treatment of OAB
- Bladder training: instead of urinating at random times throughout the day, set a schedule of times to urinate
- A group of drugs called anticholinergics can be prescribed to combat OAB
3. Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary tract infections (UTIs), though predominantly seen in women, can affect both men and women. A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system (kidney, ureters, bladder or urethra), though it’s most commonly found in the bladder and urethra. A UTI occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and multiply in the bladder.
There are two types of UTIs: Cystitis and Urethritis.
Cystitis is caused by a bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract called E. Coli. This type of STD is commonly brought on by sexual intercourse, though that’s not always the case.
Urethritis is an infection of the urethra, caused by the spread of bacteria from the anus to the urethra. This type of UTI can be brought on by already present STDs.
Note: UTIs are not always caused by sexual intercourse. They can also be contracted from a suppressed immune system, certain birth controls, catheter use, urinary tract abnormalities and more.
Symptoms of UTIs include a strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away, burning sensation while urinating, frequent urination resulting in small amounts of urine, cloudy urine, red or pink urine, strong-smelling urine and pelvic pain.
Prevention of UTIs
- Drink lots of liquids, especially water
- Drink cranberry juice
- Wipe from front to back
- Urinate soon after intercourse
- Avoid irritating feminine products
- Change birth control method
Treatment of UTIs
- A week-long course of antibiotics
- For chronic UTIs, low-dose antibiotics for long term use can be beneficial (These can also help prevent future UTIs)
- For chronic UTIs during menopause, vaginal estrogen therapy may be a good option
4. Enlarged prostate
Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate–a condition specifically pertinent to men. Normally, urine flows from the bladder to the urethra. However, with BPH, the enlarged prostate blocks the flow of urine and puts pressure on the urethra.
Symptoms of BPH include weak or slow urinary stream, difficulty starting urination, a feeling of incompletion after emptying the bladder, urgency to urinate and waking up frequently throughout the night to urinate. Men can develop BPH due to age, family history, ethnicity, health conditions or erectile dysfunction.
Note: When the bladder doesn’t empty completely, there’s a higher risk for developing UTIs.
Prevention of BPH
- Eat healthy, low-fat foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Maintain overall health
Treatment of BPH
- Rezum: A minimally invasive, in-office treatment where heated water vapor is used to shrink tissue
- Urolift: An in-office, prostatic lift procedure that involves using implants to lift the prostate
- Greenlight and Thulium Laser Vaporization: A surgical procedure in which enlarged prostate tissue is vaporized to create an open channel allowing for better urinary flow.
- Minimally Invasive Thermotherapy: A non-surgical therapy that uses low-level radiofrequency energy to produce heat, reducing the excess prostate tissue
- Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP): A procedure that involves cutting away a section of the prostate
If you’re struggling with urinary problems, you’re not alone! Millions of men and women deal with all types of urinary issues, big and small. At the Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, we specialize in treatment for all of the above urinary problems. Visit our procedures page to learn more.
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