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Urinary stress incontinence

Diapers are not just for babies

 By Dr. Gifford Jones

“We know where you’re going!” is not a phrase that women want to hear. But due to an aging population increasing numbers of women are rushing to the bathroom. Some are suffering from urinary infection or an overactive bladder. But increasing numbers of women need frequent changes of diapers due to urinary stress incontinence. Unfortunately, many women with this problem are too embarrassed to seek help. But there are ways to help relieve patients of this annoying disorder.

Urinary stress incontinence occurs when the pressure inside the bladder exceeds the pressure in the urethra, the small tube that conveys urine to the outside. The first symptom is urine leakage on occasions of stress such as coughing, sneezing, sitting down or jogging. Or, as one of my patients complained, “I laughed so hard I peed my pants.”

But it’s no laughing matter when 25 million North Americans suffer from urinary incontinence. The Mayo Clinic reports that 50 per cent of women will experience urinary incontinence at some time during their lives.

Women are three times more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence than men. A major cause is childbirth. During long and difficult labours the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and urethra become over-stretched or damaged.

The time-honoured treatment involves stitching vaginal tissues back to their normal position. This treatment cures the majority of women. But it’s a major operation that requires general anesthesia, several days in hospital and some discomfort. And unfortunately the incontinence may recur months or years later.

Another procedure called Tension-Free-Vaginal-Tape (TVT) has been used to treat this problem. The idea is quite simple. We have all sucked up soda pop through a straw and learned that if you bend the straw, the flow stops. So doctors reasoned, why not place a small tape under the urethra to bend it and stop the loss of urine?

TVT is day surgery and does not involve extensive cutting of tissues. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and can be done under local anesthesia with sedation.

There’s also a new non-surgical method for treating urinary incontinence called the Zuidex procedure. It follows a well-known maxim in therapy, that you never cut off the arm if cutting off the finger will do. It’s always prudent to first try simple methods of curing urinary stress incontinence before resorting to more complicated ones.

So what’s so unique about The Zuidex Procedure? Rather than bending the urethra with Tension-Free Vaginal Tape, an injection of Zuidex narrows the diameter of the urinary canal. It’s comparable to placing a rubber band around the urinary opening as the smaller the canal the less chance of urinary loss.

Zuidex is comprised of non-animal stabilized hyaluronic acid. Since it’s manufactured by biosynthesis and is identical to that produced by the human body there’s no risk of rejection. And since no animals are involved it also ensures a negligible risk of contamination by viruses, proteins and other harmful agents.

There are several advantages to this procedure. The four evenly spaced injections around the urethra can be performed in the doctor’s office or in an ambulatory care facility. And only local anesthesia is required.

The Zuidex procedure has proven to be safe and often effective. In a large study 77 per cent of women treated with Zuidex had a positive response. Moreover, after a 6.5 year follow up period 57 per cent were either cured or improved.

Urinary incontinence is another “closet disorder”. After all, who wants to admit that they often wet themselves and need to wear a diaper. It’s due to this embarrassment that people often suffer for years from urinary incontinence before seeking treatment.

Don’t let this happen. And don’t believe nothing can be done. In fact, early diagnosis of urinary incontinence can often be cured just by vaginal exercises. So be sure to see your doctor to determine what treatment is best suited for you.

Currently only a few doctors are performing the Zuidex procedure. To locate a physician who offers this service you can call the toll-free number 1-877-750-3456 or check the web site http://www.zuidex.com

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Dr. Gifford Jones  Bio
Dr. Gifford Jones Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones

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