Urinary and Fecal Incontinence
Incontinence, whether urinary or fecal, affects millions of people every year. Many suffer in silence from symptoms – and sometimes from a more serious underlying problem – that can and should be treated. Urinary incontinence is simply loss of bladder control, ranging in severity from occasional leakage while coughing or sneezing to a sudden urge to urinate that leaves you no time to reach a toilet. Fecal incontinence is the failure to control bowel movements, resulting in stool leakage from the rectum. In can range in severity from slight leakage while passing gas to complete loss of bowel control.
Let’s take a closer look at incontinence issues:
Urinary incontinence can affect men and women of any age. In men, the cause may be related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), urinary tract infection, physical inactivity, obesity and aging. Stroke and neurological disorders are other common causes. Up to 34 percent of older men experience urinary incontinence.
Among women that number is higher – up to 45 percent of women experience urinary incontinence. Causes range from pregnancy, childbirth and menopause to obesity and aging. Women with this condition typically develop stress incontinence (leaking when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise or anything else that increases pressure in the abdomen).
Among the many types of urinary incontinence are:
- Stress urinary incontinence. This is leakage that occurs when there is an increase in abdominal pressure caused by coughing, laughing, lifting, straining and other physical activities.
- Urge urinary incontinence. Also called overactive bladder, it is usually accompanied by a sudden, strong urge to urinate and an inability to get to the toilet fast enough.
- Mixed urinary incontinence. This condition is a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
- Overflow urinary incontinence. This occurs when the bladder does not empty properly.
All four types of incontinence are common among men of all ages.
There are many reasons for fecal incontinence, such as a case of diarrhea that strikes suddenly or damaged muscles or nerves within your rectum. Your rectum is the last section of your intestine. It controls bowel movements and signals when you need to go.
Experts believe that about one in 12 adults has fecal incontinence. Although it is not a normal part of getting older, people are more likely to have it as they age. Women are also more at risk for this condition than men.
What causes fecal incontinence?
Fecal incontinence can be caused by a chronic illness, injury or surgery including:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Large hemorrhoids
- Injuries or diseases of the spinal cord
- Congenital abnormalities
- Severe dementia
- Extensive inflammatory processes
- Obstetric injuries
- Operations involving division or dilation of the anal sphincters
If you are experiencing any symptoms of urinary or fecal incontinence, our LVHN specialists can help. Often they can treat the cause and not just the symptom, allowing you to enjoy everyday activities again without worry.
A treatment for both urinary and fecal incontinence that has been used successfully worldwide, as well as at LVHN, is InterStim™ neurostimulator therapy. Patients who are candidates for this therapy have not responded to medications or other treatments, or have an aversion to taking medications.
InterStim is a tiny pacemaker device that is implanted near the sacral nerve. Stimulating the sacral nerve establishes normal bladder or rectal function. It is implanted during a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. InterStim has helped thousands of people with incontinence issues.