What is functional incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. Functional incontinence is a form of urinary incontinence in which individuals unintentionally lose urine when they’re unable to reach a toilet in time. Functional incontinence is not necessarily leakage, it can be the loss of a small amount of urine, or an entire bladder full. In addition, it is may not be related to a urological condition. Instead, it may be linked to another medical diagnosis, mobility issues, mental challenges related to neurological conditions, or individual behaviors. In most cases, individuals know that they need to urinate, but are unable to access facilities or remove clothing quickly enough.
What causes functional incontinence?
There are several reasons that may contribute to functional incontinence. These factors may be chronic and ongoing, medical, non-medical, or a one-time event. The word ‘functional’ specifically means that there is a factor or circumstance that is keeping the individual from avoiding a wetting accident.
Medical conditions can play a part in hindering proper urination. Persons who are diagnosed with degenerative neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other form of dementia may have difficulty in communicating that they need to use the restroom. They may also develop an inability to understand their urgent need to urinate or how to locate a restroom. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis can also be affected.
Sometimes persons with debilitating arthritis lose their manual dexterity leading to an inability to disrobe properly before urinating. Likewise, those with mobility restrictions, including the use of a wheelchair or walker, may not be able to reach a restroom or remove their clothing without assistance.
Functional incontinence does not have to be tied to a physical or mental restriction. Involuntary loss of urine may occur when individuals are outside their home and unable to find a restroom in time. This can include persons who are traveling to unfamiliar locations. Furthermore, loss of urine may occur if a person is drinking heavily or taking recreational drugs that impairs their judgment. Functional incontinence can also affect patients who are taking prescribed medications that cause them to be groggy.
Treating functional incontinence will depend on its underlying cause. For instance, if it is triggered by a chronic medical condition, there will need to be a coordination of treatment based on that condition. Individuals who have trouble disrobing may need to alter their wardrobe so that it is easier to remove. Individuals who are wheelchair bound could benefit from additional assistance.
When visiting a Urologist for a functional incontinence assessment, the provider will consider the patient’s medical history, current health condition and diagnoses, mobility, physical dexterity, home environment and medications. If appropriate, they may suggest options such as bladder training, pelvic floor training such as Kegel exercises and scheduled urination, among others.
If you have experienced urinary leakage for any reason, contact Urology Austin to schedule a consultation with one of our providers.