DOHA: People suffering from urinary incontinence — loss of bladder control — have been advised to seek prompt medical advice as simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can ease or stop discomfort caused by the condition.
The Voiding Dysfunction Unit at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Urology Department is one of the best specialised units in the GCC providing diagnostic services and the full range of care to people experiencing issues with their bladder.
“Some people may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with their doctor. But if incontinence is frequent or is affecting their quality of life, it is important to seek medical advice because urinary incontinence may also indicate a more serious underlying condition,” urology specialist Dr Eyad Al Roubi noted.
“The condition may restrict their activities and limit social interaction while it also poses an increased risk of falls in older adults as they rush to the toilet.”
Common symptoms of urinary incontinence are occasional minor leaks of urine or wetting clothes frequently. Types of incontinence include stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, mixed incontinence, and problems with emptying the bladder.
Dr Al Roubi said urinary incontinence could be caused by alcohol, caffeine, decaffeinated tea and coffee, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners.
He stressed that foods high in spices, sugar or acid, especially citrus fruits, as well as medications can act as diuretics — stimulating the bladder and increasing the volume of urine.
“Urinary incontinence may also be caused by some easily treatable medical conditions, such as urinary tract infection, which irritates the bladder, causing 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 the two organs share many of the same nerves. Hard, compacted stools in your rectum cause these nerves to be overactive and increase urinary frequency and sometimes 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, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, obstruction and neurological disorders.
“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 fibre, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence,” he said.
Dr Al Rowbi added that urinary incontinence could be diagnosed by examining the bladder’s dynamics through an examination conducted with an advanced device that assesses the bladder function. This can be done by taking an X-ray of the bladder at various stages in order to further support the diagnosis.
Dr Ardalan Ghafouri, urology consultant at the Voiding Dysfunction Unit, said the unit carries out urodynamic examination of the bladder on about 400 patients annually, while it receives up to 100 patients every week.
“The unit consists of a specialised medical team, two male doctors and one female doctor, who cover the treatment of both genders as well as two male and two female nurses. In addition to ensuring the utmost privacy of our patients, this team is highly trained and has handled all cases successfully,” Dr Ardalan said.