Botox has become the ultimate symbol of vanity, at least for some women. But did you know that it actually has been approved by the government to treat various medical problems?
- muscle ailments
- chronic migraines
- underarm sweating
- multiple sclerosis
- spinal cord injury
Here's another one to add to that list: urinary incontinence.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary Incontinence is a condition that involves loss of bladder control. As a result, accidental leakage of urine occurs, where the symptoms can range from mild leakage to uncontrollable urination.
Urinary Incontinence comes in three forms:
- stress incontinence
- urge incontinence
- overflow incontinence
Stress Incontinence: This is the involuntary loss of urine after activities that put abdominal pressure on the bladder. Such actions include coughing, lifting sneezing, and laughing.
Urge Incontinence: This refers to the involuntary loss of urine due to an overwhelming urge to urinate.
Overflow Incontinence: This is the consistent dribbling of urine associated with frequent urination in small amounts.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence
Causes vary according to type.
• Stress Incontinence
Stress Incontinence is caused by stretched pelvic floor muscles which is common with weight gain or childbirth. When the muscles are stretched in a way that can no longer support the bladder efficiently, the bladder lowers down and pushes against the vagina. This prevents muscle tightening that control flow of urine. When there is additional pressure on the bladder such as from coughing, sneezing or laughing, leakage can occur.
• Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence is a result of involuntary contraction of the bladder muscle that produces a strong urge to urinate. If the person is not able to get to the toilet in time, he/she may leak urine. Having an overactive bladder is another common cause of urinary incontinence.
• Overflow Incontinence
This is more common in men than women, where an enlarged prostate impedes the flow of urine out of the bladder.
Other possible causes of overflow incontinence include:
- blockages of the urethra
- urinary stones
- scar tissue
- swelling from infection or kinks caused by dropping of the bladder within the abdomen
- weak bladder muscles
- injury of nerves that affect the bladder
- nerve damage from diseases such as diabetes, alcoholism, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, or spina bifida
- medications that affect nerve signals to the bladder, such as anticonvulsants and antidepressants
FDA Approval of Botox as a Treatment for Urinary Incontinence
Just recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Botox as a treatment for urinary incontinence in patients suffering from neurological problems such as multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. Botox, which is botulinum toxin, has been approved as treatment for various conditions since it was first made available in the market in 2002.
Patients with neurological conditions usually suffer from bladder overactivity, which then results in the inability of the bladder to store urine. Injecting Botox directly to the bladder effectively relaxes it so that patients can have more control on their muscles and less occurrence of urine leakage.
Two clinical trials were done and these involved 691 patients with urinary incontinence due to multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. Those who received Botox treatment reported significant reduction of incontinence episodes compared to the group that received placebo treatment.
It has been found that an injection can effectively control incontinence for almost up to one year, even though there are some common side effects such as:
- urinary tract infection
- urinary retention
Because of the enormous benefits, Botox continues to be a hot commodity in the medical market with annual sales reaching about $1.5 billion worldwide.