Bladder conditions - raising awareness

November is Bladder Health Month, and there's no better time to raise awareness of the bladder conditions that affect millions of patients, who often suffer in silence with common, treatable symptoms.

Bedwetting, along with symptoms of incontinence and urinary tract infections, should be brought to a physician's attention. If left untreated, these conditions can not only seriously impact quality of life but also, in some cases, lead to more serious disorders.

The American Urological Association (AUA) is urging patients to talk with their physicians if they have symptoms of the following urological conditions:

Incontinence: This common condition, often associated with aging, affects more than 15 million Americans, seriously impacting quality of life and healthcare costs. Defined as the “involuntary loss of urine,” incontinence can present in two different forms: stress incontinence – the loss of urine during such activities as coughing, sneezing, or even walking or running – and urge incontinence, also known as “overactive bladder,” which occurs when patients have frequent, uncontrollable urges to urinate. Both forms of incontinence are treatable, and patients should discuss their symptoms with a physician. In most cases of incontinence, minimally invasive management (fluid management, bladder training, pelvic floor exercises and medication) is prescribed. However, if that fails, surgical treatment can be necessary.

Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms: Lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), which are often seen in patients suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH (enlarged prostate), can include frequent urination, nocturia and urgency. Research presented earlier this year at the Annual Meeting of the AUA indicates that elderly men with moderate or severe LUTS are at a significantly greater risk for falls, and the risk dramatically increases as the symptoms worsen. Symptoms most strongly associated with falling included urinary urgency, the need to push or strain to initiate urination, nocturia and urinary frequency. Patients suffering from these symptoms should talk with their doctor about ways to manage their symptoms to minimize their risk of falls.

Urinary Tract Infections: Approximately 40 percent of women and 12 percent of men will experience at least one symptomatic urinary tract infection during their lifetimes. Symptoms include pain, a frequent need to urinate and burning during urination. If left untreated, simple urinary tract infections can migrate deeper into the urinary tract and lead to life-threatening kidney infections. UTIs affect both adults and children, and parents are urged to seek prompt medical attention if they suspect one in their child. Young children have a greater risk of developing UTI-related kidney damage. A three-day course of antibiotics will usually treat most uncomplicated UTIs. However, some infections may need to be treated for several weeks.

Bedwetting (enuresis): A common problem in children, enuresis can cause significant stress to both parent and child. There are a number of causes for bedwetting, including maturity, structural or anatomical problems, neurological issues and UTI. There are several types of enuresis, including day and night enuresis, day-only enuresis, giggle incontinence (loss of bladder control that occurs with laughing or giggling while awake) and nocturnal enuresis (classic bedwetting). Children who wet the bed should receive a full physical exam in order to rule out any serious urologic abnormalities. There are different approaches to treating bedwetting. Some parents and doctors choose simply to wait until the bedwetting resolves on its own, which happens in most cases. If the problem does not resolve itself, there are several treatment options, including modifications to fluid intake, changes in toilet habits, and the use of wetting alarm devices and medications, which can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Bladder Cancer: Blood in the urine (hematuria) is the most common symptom of bladder cancer, which is diagnosed in about 53,000 men and woman each year. Other symptoms of bladder cancer may include frequent urination and pain upon urination (dysuria). Research published earlier this year indicated that many patients are not aware of the link between cigarette smoking and bladder cancer; in fact, smoking is one of the leading risk factors for developing the disease. Along with smokers, people who work with dyes, metal, paints, leather, textiles and organic chemicals – as well as those with chronic bladder infections – are also at a higher risk. Like other cancers, bladder cancer is most treatable when caught early.

Interstitial Cystitis: Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition. Its symptoms are urinary urgency (the feeling that you need to urinate), frequent urination and/or pain anywhere between the navel and the inside of the thighs, front or back. The symptoms range from mild to severe, and intermittent to constant. Currently, there are two prescriptions approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat IC.

During this important month and throughout the year, the AUA can provide information, statistics and expert commentary on subjects related to bladder health. The AUA can assist in developing related story topics such as:

  • When to seek treatment
  • Living with urologic conditions
  • Dealing with children with urologic conditions: What parents need to know
  • New techniques and technology to treat incontinence
  • Risk factors for bladder cancer

Please contact Lacey Dean at 410-689-4054 to schedule an interview with Tomas Griebling, MD, associate professor of Urology, vice chair of Urology and assistant scientist in the Center on Aging at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City and an expert on bladder health.

About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 16,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients, including, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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