What is Urge Urinary Incontinence?

Urge urinary incontinence is characterized by a sudden and very acute need (hence – ‘urge’) to urinate that results in involuntary leakage of urine. People affected may feel this compulsion quite frequently and it may occur throughout the night. At times the urge to urinate may be so intense and unforeseen that you are unable to make it to a toilet in time.

It should be noted that the leading contributor to Urge incontinence is overactive bladder (OAB). However, all OAB sufferers do not necessarily exhibit urge symptoms. It is only when loss of bladder control comes into play when we can say someone is suffering from Urge. That said, over 40% of people with OAB have urinary incontinence and up to 70% of urinary incontinence is caused by overactive bladder.

What are the Causes of Urge Urinary Incontinence?

Though not classified as a health disease, Urge urinary incontinence is a sign of an underlying problem with the bladder, sometimes linked to infection or nerve damage caused by diabetes, stroke or Parkinson’s and most often associated with overactive bladder, as mentioned above. OAB can most simply be defined as abnormal bladder contractions, or urinary muscle spasms. In cases of OAB where Urge is present, the ordinarily strong sphincter muscles that manage urinary flow are overruled by the forceful bladder contractions of an unruly, or “overactive” bladder. Roughly 33 million Americans live with OAB, affecting as many as 30% of men and 40% of women.

What are the Symptoms of Urge Urinary Incontinence?

The hallmark of the urge type of urine bladder incontinence is a severe and pressing need to relieve oneself. That need is often difficult or impossible to control, leading to an unintentional leakage of urine. Loss of control occurs before you are able to make it to an appropriate venue for the passage of urine, most distressingly in unwelcome situations such as in public or in bed at night. Unsurprisingly, urge can be an embarrassing health condition and have a large negative impact on one’s quality of life.

What are the Treatments for Urge Urinary Incontinence?

Treatment approaches are far-ranging, as it is with overactive bladder, and can generally be classified into two categories: behavioral and medical.

Behavioral Approaches to Treating Urge:

Simple lifestyle shifts, such as using the bathroom with greater frequency, avoiding overconsumption of fluids and caffeine or avoiding fluids before bed. Keeping a chart of urinary incidence, known as timed voiding, which helps you keep track of patterns that can help you plan to void your bladder before an accident occurs. Bladder retraining exercises. Incrementally increasing the time between bathroom visits and employing Kegels (pelvic floor exercises) can over time strengthen urinary muscles and thus lead to better urinary control.

Medical Approaches to Treating Urge:

Various medication treatment is used as a second line of defense if behavioral management is not working. Some medications have been found to reduce the incidence of bladder incontinence substantially. Electrical stimulation of nerves believed to affect urine bladder contraction. Invasive surgeries aiming to enlarge the bladder’s capacity for urine, mediate nerves that cause abnormal bladder contraction or divert urinary flow.

Real Talk from Real Urge Sufferers

After getting up from a fitful six or seven hours of sleep, in the middle of which I’m off to the bathroom at least the same amount of times, my day starts (bravely but reluctantly).

I’m a human resources administrator for a pretty sizable U.S. company. This means that I’m on the phone throughout the day with all of our different departments. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to cut important discussions short or had to make up some bogus excuse in order to get to the toilet because of my overactive bladder. It literally runs my life. Coupled with stress incontinence, it makes the overwhelming urge to go a real obstacle course, to put it lightly. Sometimes I simply cannot make it in time. For that reason I always head to work equipped with an extra pair of underwear and pantyhose, plenty of hygienic wipes and spare incontinence pads, which are a life-saver.

I would say that, on average, I make a bathroom trip about three to four times every hour – and that’s on a good day! If dealing with this problem at work is difficult, imagine what it’s like when I’m trying to enjoy a day of shopping, or a night out at the movies. The amount of planning for the likelihood of a leaking episode is a real burden and has put a strain on my relationships more than once. But, after years of letting overactive bladder tell me what I can and can’t do, I am finally taking control of this condition and urge everyone out there to take advantage of all the resources that are available.

Sites like Incontinence Guide are great places to start your journey and to keep you managing your incontinence. People like us don’t have to live in the dark.”

Peggy S., Santa Clara, CA