5 Signs That You Need to See a Urologist
Some symptoms of incontinence are obvious: Urine leaks out inappropriately, or you simply can't "hold it" long enough to reach a commode. But many adults with incontinence may be oblivious to bladder problems or in denial about how serious the underlying issue may be -- that is, if their behaviors are any indication, says urologist Adam Tierney of Dean Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin.
Here are five lifestyle signs that you should see a doctor. You might be then referred to a urologist (a doctor specializing in the urinary system) or a gynecologist (a doctor specializing in the female reproductive system, who also manages certain urinary problems).
Sign #1: You routinely wear sanitary pads -- and you're not menstruating.
Some women turn to sanitary pads intended for menstruation to absorb the occasional uncontrollable leakage that seeps out when they cough, laugh too hard, lift something, or exercise -- or for leakage that appears seemingly at random.
Why it's unnecessary: "It's very common to leak urine, but that doesn't mean it's normal -- or shameful," says Jill Rabin, coauthor of Mind Over Bladder and chief of ambulatory care and urogynecology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Hyde Park, New York.
If you're postmenopausal and still buying pads, or if you've taken to wearing sanitary pads routinely even after your period to "catch" bursts of wetness, it may be urine and warrants checking out.
What you can do: Stress incontinence (when urine leaks due to a physical stressor, such as laughing or moving a certain way) can be fixed in many ways without surgery. These include physical therapy to strengthen the pelvic muscles, nerve stimulation, and biofeedback.
Losing weight has also been shown to slash stress incontinence symptoms in women who are overweight or obese to begin with. Shedding just 10 or 20 pounds can cut symptom frequency in half.
Sign #2: You keep a change of clothing stashed in your car or bag.
Preparing for disasters is one thing. But if your disaster-worry centers on the possibility that you might wet your pants or skirt, and it's no random nightmare -- it's actually happened to you before -- you needn't live in fear.
Why it's unnecessary: These random acts of incontinence aren't a normal part of aging. A doctor can help discover the underlying cause. Overflow incontinence, for example, is when something blocks normal urinary flow, making it harder to control output. (It's more common in men.) Urge incontinence is the sudden overwhelming need to empty your bladder. In some cases nothing is produced, or you can make it to a bathroom in time. But sometimes the urge comes too fast or with almost no warning. (Both men and women can experience this.)
What you can do: If a kidney stone or tumor is behind the blockage causing overflow incontinence, it can be removed. Urge incontinence treatments include medications, dietary changes, bladder retraining programs, biofeedback and electrical stimulation, and surgery. While treatments are underway, modern absorbent products also help you avoid costume changes.