How To Manage Incontinence For People With Epilepsy


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This article is evidence-based, verified by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Figures show that 3.4 million people in the United States have active epilepsy. The neurological disorder manifests itself through seizures, which can go hand in hand with urinary incontinence. Although uncomfortable, urinary incontinence is manageable, and in this post, we are going to show you how.

Management of urinary incontinence in people with epilepsy requires a lot of patience and a proactive approach that combines doctor-recommended treatments along with lifestyle modifications. In many cases, a single treatment option or lifestyle change is not enough.

The synergistic effect of multiple strategies often yields the best results. Scroll down to see how to manage this common problem.

Managing Incontinence in Epilepsy 

Patients with epilepsy who experience urinary incontinence should inform their doctor first. It’s not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable about sharing this information, but the healthcare provider can recommend the most suitable route of treatment for urinary incontinence. Management of incontinence usually involves the following.

Behavioral techniques 

One of the most critical aspects of managing urinary incontinence is the implementation of behavioral strategies such as: 

  • Bladder training – involves delaying urination after having the urge to go. It’s useful to start holding off for 10 minutes after the time you feel the urge to urinate. The main goal here is to lengthen the time between trips to the bathroom 
  • Double voiding – refers to urinating then waiting a few minutes before trying again. This technique helps you learn to empty the bladder and avoid involuntary leakage of urine later on 
  • Scheduled trips to the bathroom – instead of waiting to feel the need to go to the toilet, scheduled toilet trips every two to three hours. Just like double voiding, this helps control the bladder and could help prevent urinary incontinence later on, if seizures occur 

Kegel exercises 

Kegels are well-known exercises for pelvic floor muscles. While they typically are exercises for women, men can do Kegels as well. Practicing Kegel exercises allows you to strengthen the muscles that control urination. Not only are these exercises practical for stress-related incontinence, but they also help address urge incontinence as well.

Studies show Kegels have the potential to improve a person’s quality of life. Pelvic floor exercises are more comfortable to perform than it seems. Imagine you are trying to stop urine flow and proceed to tighten those muscles, hold for a few seconds, then release.

As you’re getting used to Kegels, you can keep squeezing to make them more challenging. More durable bladder and better control of it can help manage incontinence in different situations.

Wearing absorbent pads 

If you are worried about having a seizure which will induce the leakage of urine, it may be useful to wear absorbent pads or protective garment. These will absorb the urine and prevent uncomfortable situations in public.  

Keep weight in a healthy range 

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of urinary incontinence. A growing body of evidence confirms that weight loss can aid the management of urinary incontinence and improve the overall quality of life. This is particularly important if we bear in mind that overweight and obesity are prevalent in patients with epilepsy.

One study showed that 55.2% of epilepsy patients with overweight or obese. Modify your diet and exercise regularly to lose weight and maintain it in a healthy range.

Medications 

To treat urinary incontinence, many doctors prescribe drugs with different actions. Drugs such as anticholinergics calm a busy bladder while others like Mirabegron relax the bladder muscle and increase the amount of urine the bladder can hold.

Surgery 

Surgery is the last resort; this treatment the doctors recommend only when other strategies and lifestyle modifications don’t work. Several surgical procedures could address urinary incontinence such as sling procedures, bladder neck suspension, artificial urinary sphincter, and prolapse surgery.

Other things you can do 

Besides the above-mentioned management strategies, you may also want to: 

  • Quit smoking 
  • Practice yoga  
  • Meditate 
  • Limit or avoid consuming alcohol and caffeine  
  • Eat more fiber 

Why Does Epilepsy Cause Urinary Incontinence? 

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Neurological disorders often lead to urinary incontinence due to various reasons such as spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, and increasing the amount of pressure on the bladder.

Both tonic and absence seizures could contribute to urinary incontinence. Tonic seizures cause incontinence due to pressure on the bladder, while in absence, seizures signals from the brain to retain urine get confused due to impaired consciousness.

Is it Possible to Eliminate Urinary Incontinence for Good? 

The treatment of urinary incontinence often depends on the underlying cause, in this case, epilepsy. That’s why eliminating urinary incontinence for good could be challenging. In most cases, patients gain more control of the bladder and manage other symptoms of incontinence. This improves their quality of life and helps them feel more confident, especially in public.

Bear in mind that adhering to doctor-recommended treatment for epilepsy can also aid the management of urinary incontinence. That’s why it’s vital to go regular checkups and inform the doctor about all symptoms and changes you experience.

What Happens if I Don’t Manage Urinary Incontinence? 

Being proactive about your health is incredibly important. When left unmanaged, urinary incontinence can cause other problems such as urinary tract infections, skin problems, and affect your confidence.

Conclusion 

Epileptic seizures, like other neurological disorders, can cause urinary incontinence. Management of urinary incontinence requires a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. A healthier lifestyle, coupled with doctor-recommended strategies, can help improve the overall quality of life in patients with epilepsy who experience urinary incontinence.

Managing the underlying condition (in this case, epilepsy) can also help tackle this problem.

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.

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