As we age, bladder control issues can become an embarrassing and annoying fact of life. Seniors often deal with urinary incontinence, adult diapers, or the urgent feelings that comes with an overactive bladder. And while there are many different causes for these conditions, they frequently fall under the umbrella term, neurogenic bladder.
But before we explore this topic too deeply, we should stop for a moment and review the basic function of the bladder and urinary system.
How Does the Bladder Work?
The bladder is a muscular sac that squeezes to release urine through two sphincters and out the urethra. While this process sounds simple, it’s actually governed by a complex system of nerves connecting the bladder, spinal cord, and brain. These nerves constantly relay messages from the brain, which tell the bladder when it should store or release urine.
If brain, spinal cord, or nerve damage disrupts these signals, patients can often lose bladder control. And when that happens, doctors refer to is as neurogenic bladder.
These signal disruptions are often caused by congenital birth defects, traumatic injury, or infections. But conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease as well as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and stroke all increase a person’s chance of developing neurogenic bladder, so the elderly population is at particular risk
How Does the Bladder Malfunction?
Neurogenic bladder typically causes two kinds of malfunctions. The bladder either becomes overactive and squeezes when it isn’t full, or it becomes under active and won’t release urine at all. In some cases, neurogenic bladder patients experience both overactive and under active bladder symptoms.
If neurogenic bladder isn’t treated, patients may go on to develop urine leakage, urine retention, kidney damage, or infection.
What are the Symptoms of Neurogenic Bladder
Neurogenic bladder causes a number of different symptoms, including:
- Urinary tract infections
- Frequent urination
- Urinary retention or obstruction
- A weak urine stream
- Feeling like you need urgently urinate
- Kidney stones
These symptoms can also be caused by a number of different conditions, so to confirm a neurogenic bladder diagnosis, doctors will often conduct a number of test which may include a urine culture, cystoscopy, urodynamic testing, or MRI, x-ray or CT scans.
Treating Neurogenic Bladder
In most cases, lifestyle changes are the best treatment for the effects of neurogenic bladder. These might include eliminating certain bladder irritating foods or certain performing exercises that help strengthen weak bladders.
Other more invasive treatments include prescription drugs or nerve stimulation procedures. Some neurogenic bladder patients use continuous or intermittent catheterization, while others opt for surgical interventions that increase the size of the bladder or repair damages urinary sphincters.
The course of treatment often depends on the severity of the condition, so consult with your doctor about all your available treatment options.
Incontinence and Home Care
Because incontinence is such a common part of aging, Generations Home Care offers incontinence care as part of our regular caregiving services. So if you or someone you love lives in the greater Phoenix area, requires at home care, and is suffering from the effects of neurogenic bladder, our trained caregivers can help.
Contact us today by phone at 602-595-HOME (4663) or online by completing the form on our contact page. Once you’ve made contact, we can work together to create your customized care plan and to provide a free quote.
Bladder control issues can be embarrassing but they don’t have to be humiliating. Especially if you’re working with a qualified and empathetic caregiver who’s always there to help.