The Signs and Symptoms of Incontinence

  • Many people are embarrassed to talk about incontinence, but it is important to discuss it with your doctor.
  • With the right treatment, you can take back control over your bladder and your life.


Millions of people in the United States struggle with incontinence. It is sometimes a temporary problem that can be remedied easily by treating the root cause of the condition. Sometimes, it is a chronic problem that requires more extensive medical intervention. It is important to talk to your doctor about incontinence so you can discuss treatment options.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control your bladder. Incontinence may present as a frequent sudden urge to urinate, or it could cause you to leak a small amount of urine when doing anything that puts pressure on your bladder, such as exercising. There are four types of urinary incontinence, and your doctor will determine which of the following types you have to decide which treatment option is best for your diagnosis.

  • Overflow incontinence: If your bladder doesn’t empty completely when you urinate, you may experience urine leakage throughout the day.
  • Functional incontinence: Sometimes, physical conditions and impairments make it difficult to get to the bathroom in time when you feel the need to urinate.
  • Stress and urge incontinence: You often have trouble controlling your bladder and have an intense urge to urinate frequently. You may also leak urine when you put pressure on the bladder by coughing, sneezing, or exercising.
  • Mixed incontinence: You have more than one type of incontinence.

Signs of Urinary Incontinence

The most obvious sign of urinary incontinence is the loss of control of your bladder. Regardless of which type of incontinence you have, you may also experience skin rashes as a result of being constantly wet from urine. You may also develop bladder infections. These symptoms are typically secondary to loss of bladder control, and you may need medication in the form of pills and creams to resolve them.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Incontinence affects both men and women in the United States, and there are many causes for the condition. Temporary incontinence can be caused by urinary tract infections and constipation as both of these conditions put stress on the bladder and urethra. In these cases, the condition is usually resolved after the root problem is treated.

There are also causes for chronic incontinence. Certain habits such as drinking caffeine or alcohol and smoking can lead to incontinence, and in this case, making a few lifestyle changes can help with the problem. Aging can also be a key factor, especially in women, as bladder muscles weaken with age and make it more difficult to hold urine. Pregnancy and childbirth continue to be two of the leading causes of incontinence in women, while prostate problems are the leading cause of incontinence in men.

Treatments for Urinary Incontinence

There is no single treatment for incontinence. The treatment your doctor recommends will vary depending upon the cause and type of incontinence you have. For temporary incontinence caused by consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, simple dietary changes may be effective. Women may find Kegel exercises effective for strengthening pelvic muscles to treat chronic incontinence. In more severe cases, people may need to use incontinence products such as pads or catheters.

Fecal Incontinence

While urinary incontinence is more common, fecal incontinence can also be a problem. It is primarily experienced by women who have recently given birth vaginally. Bladder problems occur when the sphincter does not contract to prevent urine from leaking out of the bladder. Fecal incontinence occurs when there is an anal sphincter injury that happens during childbirth.

The inability to control gas or bowel movements is embarrassing for many women who have fecal incontinence, but the condition is more common than people think. Approximately 10% of women who give birth vaginally develop this problem, with the majority of them being first-time mothers. Thankfully, the problem usually resolves itself within three to six months of the birth, but there are some ways you can speed up the process.

Treatments for Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence can interfere with your daily life and cause you to withdraw from society for fear of having an accident in public. Speaking to your doctor quickly to find early treatment options is the best way to get the problem under control before it impacts your quality of life. You may want to try any of the following treatments.

  • Bowel training
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Dietary changes
  • Medication
  • Surgery

Incontinence is a problem that millions of Americans face, but there are ways to take control of your health and reduce the impact the condition has on your quality of life. Partnering with a great doctor is the best way to discover the cause of your incontinence and find a treatment plan that works for you. For incontinence patients who live in Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Catherine Vanderloos is ready to help improve the quality of life by getting the condition under control. Contact us online or reach out by calling (318) 865-4333 to schedule an appointment for a consultation

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