Urinary incontinence is a relatively common, and timely diagnosis is important to ensure symptoms are managed effectively. Additionally, as there can often be an underlying cause that leads to incontinence symptoms, it is essential that causes are not overlooked so that they can be managed effectively.
In the diagnosis of urinary incontinence, establishing the type of incontinence is essential to understand the causative factors and to decide upon the optimal management plan.
Types of incontinence include:
Upon initial consultation with presenting symptoms, a detailed history of incontinence symptoms should be recorded, along with and relevant health conditions or medications.
It may be useful for patients to keep a diary or their urinary movement for a period of time, perhaps a week, to describe an overall picture of how the condition is affecting their life. Fluid intake, times to void in bathroom and any incidences of incontinence should be recorded. This can assist greatly in diagnosing which type of incontinence is responsible for symptoms and choosing a coherent treatment.
Several factors that are important to note when taking a medical history are:
Following the detailed history, a physical examination of the urinary tract may help to understand specific reasons for the symptoms of incontinence.
A blockage in the urinary tract, such as an enlarged prostate gland or other tumor, may be obstructing the passage of urine. Severe cases of constipation can put pressure on the bladder, forcing the muscles to contract earlier than they should. Finally, evidence of poor reflexes or sensations in the area may be indicative of damage to the nervous system.
If it is suspected that the patient suffers from stress incontinence, this may be physically examined by asking the patient to cough vigorously while evidence of incontinence is monitored.
There are several types of tests that may be beneficial in the diagnosis of urinary incontinence. The most commonly used tests include:
It is best for patients with urinary incontinence to be referred to a medical profession that specializes in this field, such as a urologist. A gynecologist may be able to provide more specific advice about the female urinary system, particular in regards to symptoms of incontinence following childbirth.