Medical Information on Bladder Diseases
The bladder is a hollow organ in your lower abdomen that stores urine. Many conditions can affect your bladder. Some common ones are
- Cystitis - inflammation of the bladder, often from an infection
- Urinary incontinence - loss of bladder control
- Overactive bladder - a condition in which the bladder squeezes urine out at the wrong time
- Interstitial cystitis - a chronic problem that causes bladder pain and frequent, urgent urination
- Bladder cancer
Doctors diagnose bladder diseases using different tests. These include urine tests, x-rays, and an examination of the bladder wall with a scope called a cystoscope. Treatment depends on the cause of the problem. It may include medicines and, in severe cases, surgery.
There are excellent new surgical ways to treat serious bladder issues.
Surgery for overactive bladder involves implanting a nerve-stimulation bladder pacemaker medical device. Bladder nerve stimulation inhibits messages sent by an over-active bladder to your brain signaling a need to urinate. Sacral nerve stimulation works by continuously sending small, electrical impulses to the nerves that control urination. The impulses are generated by a small, pacemaker-like device surgically placed under the skin, usually in your buttock. Attached to the device, called a stimulator, is a thin, electrode-tipped wire that passes under your skin, carrying these impulses to the sacral nerve.
Bladder electrical stimulation doesn't work for everyone so you can always try it out first by wearing the stimulator externally, after the attached wire is placed under your skin in a minor surgical procedure. If the bladder pacemaker bladder pacer/stimulator substantially improves your symptoms, then you can have it implanted. Surgery to implant the bladder pacemaker is an out-patient procedure done in an operating room under local anesthesia and mild sedation. You may be advised to limit activities for 3 or more weeks as your incisions heal.
Once the pacemaker implanted, it functions for several years. After that, it can be replaced during an outpatient procedure. Your doctor can adjust the level of stimulation with a hand-held programmer, and you also have a control to use for adjustments. The stimulation doesn't cause pain and may improve or successfully treat more than half the people with difficult-to-treat urge incontinence or urinary retention leading to overflow incontinence. The device can be removed at any time.
Bladder ailments can also be treated with doctors care, over-the-counter and prescription drug medications combined with eating the right foods, proper diet and exercise.
How Common is Urinary Incontinence?
More than 13 million Americans — male and female, young and old — have incontinence. Women are more likely to leak urine than men.
Older women have more bladder control problems than younger women. However, loss of bladder control does not have to happen as you age. If you're leaking urine, talk to your doctor about it.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence?
There are many reasons why a woman may leak urine. Sometimes it's caused by illnesses, in which case bladder control returns when the illness goes away. For example, bladder infections and infections in the vagina can cause incontinence for at least a short time. Being unable to have a bowel movement or taking certain medicines also may make it hard to control your bladder.
Sometimes incontinence is an ongoing problem, in which case the cause might be one of the following reasons:
- the bladder cannot empty completely
- weakening of the muscles that help to hold or release urine
- a blocked urinary passage
- damage to the nerves that control the bladder
Sometimes, diseases such as arthritis make it hard to get to the bathroom in time and can make it even harder to control urine leakage.