Biofeedback: A Solution for Bladder Problems
It is often embarrassing to talk about bladder problems. However, these can also be an important aspect of one’s health and quality of life.
The Different Types of Bladder Problems
Some of the most common types of bladder problems include overactive bladder, bladder infection, and urinary incontinence.
This is a condition wherein one feels a strong urge to urinate frequently. It can be very difficult to control the urge and if one does not pee frequently, the so-called “urge incontinence” takes place. This is when one accidentally urinates after an urgent need to go. People who are suffering from this condition often urinate over eight times in a day.
One of the most common causes of this condition is advanced age and conditions that often comes with aging. Enlarged prostate, diabetes, and cognitive decline (as with Alzheimer’s or dementia) can contribute to overactive bladder.
This is sometimes called as cystitis or inflammation of the bladder. It is more common in women than in men. But, older men may get bladder infections, especially those who have enlarged prostate. In most cases, bladder infection is easy to treat, but when left untreated, it can develop into more serious urinary tract infections.
There are various factors that can trigger the risk of contracting a bladder infection such as the following:
- Having kidney stones,
- Having diabetes (especially uncontrolled diabetes),
- Hormonal changes, either after menopause or during/after pregnancy,
- Having had a catheter in place.
- Wiping from back to front after a bowel movement,
- Having sex,
- “Holding it” – waiting too long to pee,
- Using a diaphragm or spermicide (either with a diaphragm or a condom)
Urinary incontinence is when you cannot control your bladder. It can range from occasionally leaking urine to losing complete control of the bladder.
There are five types of incontinence:
- Stress incontinence: Urine leaks when youcough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, or lift heavy objects.
- Urge incontinence: You may have a sudden, intense urge to pee followed by an involuntary loss of bladder control.
- Overflow incontinence: Your bladder doesn’t empty completely, so you experience frequent dribbling of urine.
- Functional incontinence: This is when other physical or mental problems prevent you from getting to the toilet on time. For example, if your mobility is impaired, you may feel the urge to urinate and try to make it to the toilet, but you might not be able to make it in time.
- Mixed incontinence: This is where you have more than one type of incontinence.
Women are more likely to have stress incontinence, especially after pregnancy and childbirth. Men who have an enlarged prostate may have problems with stress incontinence. Advanced age, obesity (or being overweight), and having certain other neurological diseases or uncontrolled diabetes can also contribute to incontinence.
Biofeedback and Bladder Problems
Regarding cystitis, the standard protocol calls for antibiotics, which are highly effective. For interstitial cystitis (painful bladder syndrome), patients may benefit from biofeedback.
One of the best studies on biofeedback for overactive bladder was published in Urology in 2000. The study found that biofeedback-assisted behavioral treatment was more effective than either oxybutynin or placebo in treating urge and mixed urinary incontinence in women. The study notes that biofeedback can be time-consuming, but that it has significantly fewer side effects than other types of treatment.
When it comes to urinary incontinence, studies indicate that biofeedback can be very effective, particularly when combined with toileting skills training. One study shows that it reduced stress incontinence by 82%, urge incontinence by 94%, and detrusor motor instability by 85%.