Urge incontinence is an embarrassing medical condition that affects nearly seventeen million people in the United States alone. Commonly known as overactive bladder, this condition is typically characterized by intense and sudden urges to urinate, which are then often followed by an involuntary loss of urine.
Symptoms of overactive bladder are often linked to other medical conditions, such as neurological disorders, acute urinary tract infections or bladder irritations, as well as bladder abnormalities such as tumors or bladder cancer. In women, pregnancy and delivery can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, which is a common cause of overactive bladder. While in men, changes in the prostate gland often induce symptoms.
There are various medical treatments available for overactive bladder, but researchers believe that Botox injections may help patients when other medications have failed to relieve symptoms. According to a new study published in European Urology, patients who received Botox injections for overactive bladder experienced a decrease in both frequency and urgency.
British researcher Dr. Arun Sahai and colleagues at King’s College, observed 100 patients over the course of six years, receiving Botox injections for overactive bladder symptoms. Most patients were given between one and three injections. Injection rates varied because patients were given the choice to decide how many injections they received.
Twenty-five percent of patients discontinued their treatment after the first injection either because they did not feel relief of their symptoms or were uncomfortable with the need for self-catheterization after treatment. Of the patients who opted to continue treatment, researchers found continued improvement in symptoms of frequency, urgency and incontinence.
Researchers did note that 15 percent of patients experienced urinary tract infections (UTI) as a primary side effect of treatment. Botox injections have been seen to cause UTIs in other studies. The exact cause of this side effect is unknown, but researchers speculate that injections may cause bacteria to move deep into the bladder. Self-catheterization may also be a potential cause of these infections.
From the data collected, researchers were able to conclude that Botox injections for overactive bladder are both safe and effective for medium-term use. Long-term studies have not been conducted.
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