Posted on August 23, 2015

Urinary incontinence, which refers to the loss of bladder control, is a common problem that both children and adults can suffer from. For most people, simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can ease discomfort or stop urinary incontinence. The Voiding Dysfunction Unit at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Urology Department is one of the best specialized units in the region, providing a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for men, women and children suffering from urinary incontinence.

The severity of the condition can range from occasionally leaking urine when a person coughs or sneezes, to having the urge to urinate that is so sudden and strong they may not get to a toilet in time. Many people suffering from incontinence are often embarrassed about it and may even feel uncomfortable discussing their problem with their doctor. However, seeking prompt medical advice can ease or stop discomfort caused by the condition.

Dr. Ardalan Ghafouri (pictured right), Urology Consultant at the Voiding Dysfunction Unit, said that the unit receives up to 100 patients every week and carries out bladder urodynamic examinations on about 400 patients annually. “Patients are referred from different units within HMC, as well as primary health centers and the private sector,” he added. “The unit consists of a specialized medical team, including male and female doctors and nurses who cover the treatment of both genders. We understand the psychological impact this condition can have on people and ensure the utmost privacy of our patients. Our team is highly trained in providing competent and compassionate care to our patients,” Dr. Ardalan added.

He mentioned that the unit is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that is the latest in the field of diagnosis and treatments. Dr. Ardalan added that the unit has the latest medical and surgical therapies available for treatment of any type of urinary problem. Available treatments include: bladder training, fluid and diet management, pelvic floor muscle exercises, pelvic floor electrical stimulation, medical devices like pessaries, bulking material injections, botulinum toxin type A (botox) injection, interstim sacral neuromodulation, sling procedures, prolapse surgery, artificial urinary sphincter.

“If incontinence is frequent or is affecting a person’s quality of life, it's important to seek medical advice because urinary incontinence may also indicate a more serious underlying medical condition. It may cause restriction in activities and limit social interactions of the affected person, and can lead to an increased risk of falls in older adults as they rush to the toilet,” HMC’s Urology Specialist, Dr. Eyad Al Roubi (pictured left) noted. According to Dr. Al Roubi, types of incontinence include: stress incontinence (associated with straining when coughing, sneezing and lifting heavy objects), urge incontinence (when the patient can’t hold urine and has to rush to toilet), mixed incontinence and problems when emptying the bladder or a weak urinary stream, as well as urine leaking during the night.

He explained that urge urinary incontinence can get worse by certain types of drinks such as alcohol, caffeine, decaffeinated tea and coffee, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners. Foods that are spicy, high in sugar or acid, especially citrus fruits, as well as medications can act as diuretics - stimulating the bladder and increasing the volume of urine, he said. “Urinary incontinence may also be caused by some easily treatable medical conditions, such as urinary tract infection, which irritates the bladder and causes strong urges to urinate and sometimes incontinence. Other signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection include a burning sensation when urinating and foul-smelling urine.”

Constipation is another cause as the rectum is located near the bladder and shares many of the same nerves. Hard, compacted stool in the rectum causes these nerves to be overactive and increase urinary frequency and sometime urinary retention,” he explained. Urinary incontinence can also be a persistent condition caused by underlying physical problems or changes, including pregnancy, childbirth, changes with age, menopause, hysterectomy, obstructive enlarged prostate and neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury and spinal cord deformities in children.

“Urinary incontinence isn't always preventable but certain factors can help decrease the risk of having the condition, such as maintaining a healthy weight; practicing pelvic floor exercises especially during pregnancy; avoiding bladder irritants such as caffeine and acidic foods; and eating more fiber, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence,” Dr. Al Roubi added.

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