10 questions to ask your doctor about incontinence
Incontinence is a common but extremely treatable and manageable condition that unfortunately, can be embarrassing to discuss. However, speaking to your doctor is a chance to learn more about the condition. At the same time, open communication about your symptoms can help you establish some guiding principles to caring for this ailment.
If you think you have incontinence, here are 10 questions to ask.
1. Are there different types of incontinence?
Yes. Incontinence is classified in three major categories, including:
Stress incontinence: Urine leakage under any 'stress', such as laughing, sneezing, coughing or exercise. Obesity can also put pressure on the bladder leading to stress incontinence.
Urge incontinence or overactive bladder: If nerves from the bladder to the brain are damaged, they can cause a sudden bladder contraction that can’t be consciously controlled.
Mixed incontinence: A combination between stress and urge incontinence leading to a situation where a person might leak during exercise and also feel a strong urge to urinate.
Overflow and functional incontinence are two other types, defined as frequent urine dribble due to an inability to empty the bladder completely and being physically or mentally unable to unbutton your pants in time.
2. What causes incontinence?
Incontinence is a symptom, not a disease, meaning it's easily treatable depending on your situation. Thoroughly explaining all your symptoms to your doctor can help you be sure you’re getting the right advice for your condition.
3. What should I do to prepare for a doctor’s appointment?
Before heading to your doctor for an appointment, it could save you time if you called ahead to check what you need to do to prepare. Writing down all your symptoms, making a list of any medication you're taking and making a separate list of your medical conditions, and writing down some questions to ask are a few ways you can make the most of your appointment.
4. What kind of tests do I need to take?
Before administering any tests, your doctor will thoroughly ask you about your medical history, and is likely to do a simple physical exam. They may request a urinalysis (urine test) and for you to keep a bladder diary. Further special testing may be required based on your situation.
5. Can medication cause or worsen incontinence?
Some prescription medications may cause or exacerbate incontinence. If you think the medication you’re taking could be associated with your incontinence, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.
6. How can I better manage incontinence?
There are many ways to manage incontinence so your day is less disrupted – this is best discussed with your doctor. In some instances, altering your lifestyle choices may help. You can take steps such as reducing your caffeine intake, quitting smoking or losing weight. These actions may reduce or eliminate incontinence.
7. What are my treatment options?
There are many options for treating the symptoms of incontinence. These range from non-invasive techniques, such as bladder training, fluid and diet management, pelvic floor exercises and medication. Treatment can also include interventional therapies, such as botox or bulking material injections, as well as surgery.
8. How will I know I need surgery?
Incontinence can be managed without surgery in most cases. Usually, once you’ve exhausted several other treatment types, you can discuss surgery with your doctor.
9. What are the risks and benefits of surgery?
Some general risks of incontinence surgeries include injury to the bladder, bowel, blood vessels or nerves, increased chance of urinary tract or wound infections, and continued or exacerbated urinary problems. Some of the benefits of some procedures are same-day surgery, quick recovery times and the end of your symptoms.
10. What other treatment options are available to me?
Incontinence products, such as pad, can ease the discomfort and inconvenience of living with incontinence. Your doctor can provide advice on recommended brands or what’s more suitable for your individual condition.