Urge incontinence

Alternative Names

Overactive bladder; Detrusor instability; Detrusor hyperreflexia; Irritable bladder; Spasmodic bladder; Unstable bladder; Incontinence – urge; Bladder spasms

Definition of Urge incontinence

Urge incontinence is the strong, sudden need to urinate due to bladder spasms or contractions.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

A person’s ability to hold urine depends on normal function of the lower urinary tract, kidneys, and nervous system. The person must also have the physical and mental ability to recognize and respond to the urge to urinate.

Signs and tests

During a physical examination, the health care provider will look at the abdomen and rectum. Women will also have a pelvic exam. Men will also have a genital exam. In most cases the physical exam reveals nothing abnormal.

Treatment

The choice of treatment will depend on how severe the symptoms are, and how much they interfere with your lifestyle. There are three main treatment approaches for urge incontinence: medication, retraining, and surgery.

Expectations (prognosis)

How well you do depends on your symptoms, an accurate diagnosis, and proper treatment. Many patients must try different therapies (some at the same time) to reduce symptoms.

Review

A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine (8/30/2009). – 3/5/2010

Female urinary tract
Male urinary tract

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

Article written by

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability.