Reflex incontinence is also called an overactive bladder. It occurs when the bladder muscle contracts and the urine leaks in large amounts without any urge to visit the bathroom.
Generally, this happens when the nerve that signals the brain about the bladder filling gets damaged. This condition appears in people with spinal cord injury, radiation treatment, or other injuries.
Causes of Reflex Incontinence
Neurological impairment usually causes reflex Incontinence. Other common causes are:
- Surgical damage
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Radiation treatments
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
Diagnosis of Reflex Incontinence
The symptoms of reflex incontinence are the same as any other type of incontinence. If you experience any of those, visit a doctor.
It is essential to know the kind of incontinence you are suffering from because every type needs a little different treatment. Before the doctor’s appointment, you may be asked to keep a bladder diary which includes recoding your urine leaks, daily habits, liquid intake for a week.
The medical professional will do a physical analysis to know your medical history and symptoms to determine the tests required.
The tests include:
Urinalysis – This involves a urine test
Cough Stress Test – The doctor will ask you to drink liquid until your bladder is full and then ask you to cough. If you leak while coughing, it will help him/her determine the type of incontinence you are suffering.
Pelvic Exam In Women – The doctor identifies if you suffer from pelvic organ prolapse or relaxation.
Urine Culture – If urinalysis detects infection, then your urine will be sent for culture examination to diagnose bacteria, which may indicate urinary tract infection.
Blood Test – This test assesses kidney function and detects chemical imbalance. It also indicates the prostate antigen levels in men.
Pelvic Floor Analysis – This test determines the strength of the pelvic floor muscles.
Post-Void Residual Urine Examination – This analysis measures the urine level in your bladder 10 minutes after visiting the bathroom. The sample can be analyzed for any crystals, sugar blood, or infections.
Cystoscopy – This test determines if the bladder neck is contracted. The doctor will insert a tiny camera into your bladder and perform a closer analysis.
Urodynamic Test – This test determines bladder flow, function, and capacity. It may also include a stress test, pressure void study, uroflowmetry, urethral pressure profile, or cystometrogram.
Treatments of Reflex Incontinence
Treatment options vary based on the seriousness of reflex incontinence. The treatments you undergo may include one or more of the following:
Bladder Training – This behavioral technique involves you to hold the urine for a few seconds while urinating and then release at appropriate times.
Scheduled Bathroom Visits – Bladder training may involve you to make timed bathroom visits. Gradually, the wait times will increase, and also your capacity to hold urine will improve.
Kegel Exercises – This exercise strengthens your bladder muscles, and strong muscles support healthy function, thus prevents urine leaks. Pelvic floor muscle exercises require contractions of muscles. After regular exercises, your muscles will perform better.
Double Voiding – This is used to empty your bladder completely. After you finish urinating, wait for some time and try to urinate again.
If at-home behavioral changes do not work, the doctor may suggest you use some medical products like:
Patches – this device is inserted into the vagina to prevent leaks. It is useful during a particular physical exercise.
Adult Undergarments – these are absorbent products like incontinence pads.
Catheters – this requires inserting a thin tube into your urinary bladder, which empties urine.
Pessary – this ring-shaped device applies pressure against the urethra to reduce leaks.
The treatment option is used with or after behavioral treatments. These include:
Antimuscarinics and Anticholinergics – these relax the bladder muscles and reduce spasms.
Beta – 3 Agonists – this helps suppress bladder contractions.
Tricyclic Antidepressants – these are made to treat depression but can be effectual bladder muscle relaxants as well.
Topical Estrogen (for women) – estrogen cream can be used in and around the vagina to tone the urethra muscle and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
If none of the treatment options work, surgical intervention may be essential like:
Artificial Sphincter – this is designed for men having problems with the sphincter malfunction, causing incontinence issues.
Slings – the surgeon inserts a sling to cradle urethra and bladder neck or lift the neck to improve urine function by taking the pressure off the bladder.
Reflex Incontinence Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Do To Stop Urine Leaks?
For many people with incontinence, self-care tips and lifestyle changes help treat incontinence. These include:
- Doing kegel exercise
- Quit smoking
- Avoid weight lifting
- Eat healthy foods
- Treat constipation
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
- Lose weight
What Are The Types Of Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is more common than fecal incontinence and is subdivided further into:
- Stress incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- Functional incontinence
- Reflex incontinence
- Mixed incontinence
- Total incontinence
Can Incontinence Be Cured?
Incontinence can happen to anyone and is common amongst elders, especially women. It can be controlled or cured with plenty of treatment options available like lifestyle changes, Kegel exercises, medications, medical products, and surgery.
We hope to have helped you know in brief the causes, diagnosis, and treatment options of reflex incontinence. We would be happy to answer your questions related to incontinence. You can talk to one of our experts by calling us or scheduling an appointment.