Monday, November 8, 2010

Got the Urge? Incontinence and Women

When you “gotta go, gotta go,” all of the time, you probably should go straight to your doctor to determine the reasons why. It’s a problem facing many people. “Over 35 million people in America have bladder problems,” says Dee-Dee Shiller, D.O., the director of the Women’s Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital.

Dr. Shiller, presented a lecture on “urge incontinence” at Sinai Hospital’s Grand Rounds last week, where the focus was on women. “So many women deal with incontinence on a daily basis,” Dr. Shiller says. “The problem is, a lot of women don’t want to talk about it. They think it is part of the normal aging process.”

“Urge incontinence” is when a person leaks urine for no apparent reason after feeling the urge to urinate. It differs from “stress incontinence” which can happen after coughing, sneezing or exercising.

No one should suffer silently with bladder problems because good treatment options are available. Dr. Shiller advises her patients to urinate on a schedule, every two or three hours, instead of waiting until the situation gets dire. Also, her patients find that keeping a “bladder diary” is helpful.

The bladder diary can record the patients’ trips to the bathroom, what they drank, accidental urine leaks and what they were doing at the time. It can enlighten people to which bladder irritants may be causing the urge incontinence.

Bladder irritants can include caffeine, diet sweeteners, alcohol and tobacco. Dr. Shiller said that not everyone agrees with what can irritate the bladder. Also, losing excess weight, not drinking liquids three hours before bedtime, and doing Kegel exercises (contracting the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor for ten seconds and then relaxing) may help.

“Behavioral therapy does work,” Dr. Shiller says. However, there are medications that can also work although some can be costly.

The Women’s Wellness Center offers alternative therapies such as massage, yoga, meditation and acupuncture that can benefit women suffering from urge incontinence. “I would love it if Depends (adult diapers) were off the market,” Dr. Shiller says.

To learn more about the Women’s Wellness Center at Northwest Hospital, call 410-601-9355 (WELL).

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