Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the uncontrolled leakage of urine.

Overview

Urinary incontinence is the uncontrolled leakage of urine. The cause of this functional disorder can lie in the bladder, the pelvic floor or a defective response by the vegetative (autonomic) nervous system. Pelvic floor exercises and avoiding being overweight are examples of preventive measures.

Symptoms

  • Leakage of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing (stress incontinence, “bladder weakness”)
  • Strong urge to urinate, urgent need to urinate immediately (urge incontinence)
  • Constant dribbling, mostly when the bladder is too full (overflow incontinence)
  • Frequent and possibly painful urination
  • Complications
    • Overflow incontinence (if left untreated): kidney damage, including kidney failure caused by urine backflow
    • Urosepsis (“blood poisoning”)

Causes and treatment

Causes

Local causes
Causes that lie outside the bladder
  • Neurological and mental illnesses
  • Reflex incontinence (automatic bladder)
  • Medication: sometimes involuntary urine leakage is a side effect
  • Bed-wetting at night for children
    • Uncontrolled urinary leakage due to underdeveloped bladder control
    • Usually a psychological cause in older children

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Urine test
  • Measurement of urine leakage (pad testing)
  • Blood test
  • Further options: ultrasound (sonography), bladder endoscopy, measurement of urine stream (uroflowmetry)
Possible therapies
  • Depending on the cause of the incontinence
  • Medication
  • Situation-specific surgery
  • Single-use or permanent catheter to drain urine

What can I do myself?

  • Pelvic floor exercises, postnatal gymnastics*
  • Avoid being overweight
  • Regular urination according to a fixed schedule, progressive lengthening of toilet intervals
  • Absorbent sanitary or incontinence pads, vaginal tampons
  • Foot reflexology, biofeedback
  • Diabetics: good blood sugar regulation
  • Not recommended: reduction of fluid intake

* If you have a “Health Account”, CSS pays part of the course costs. Contact one of our agencies for more information.

When to see a doctor?

  • Generally if you suffer from regular involuntary urine leakage (identification of cause and form of incontinence)
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Pain when urinating
  • Stomach cramps, lower abdominal and lower back pain
  • Fever, involuntary weight loss
  • Feeling of pressure in the pelvic area

Synonyms

urinary incontinence, bladder weakness, stress incontinence, urge incontinence

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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