Voiding dysfunction, a common kind of urinary incontinence, refers to a common problem in which you lose control of your bladder. The loss of bladder control leads to urinary leakage, which varies in amount and frequency based on each case. Voiding dysfunction is more likely than not a symptom of another condition, which for veterans often means you will want to identify its source in addition to having your symptoms treated.
Voiding Dysfunction Symptoms and Treatment
Voiding dysfunction is subcategorized based on the specific type of dysfunction regarding your bladder, which results in different symptoms revolving around urinary leakage and requires different treatment approaches.
The main types of urinary incontinence as a whole include:
1. Stress incontinence: leakage occurs due to pressure but on the bladder from laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising, lifting heavy objects, and so on
2. Urge incontinence: describes a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an unctrolled release of urine; may happen often, including at night, and could be caused by anything from a minor infection to serious condition such as diabetes or a neurological disorder
3. Overflow incontinence: describes frequent urine loss or continual dribbling of urine due to your inability to fully empty your bladder
4. Functional incontinence: leakage occurs when you suffer from a physical impairment that makes it difficult to reach a toilet and prepare to urinate in time
5. Mixed incontinence: describes a combination of types of incontinence, which for most people is a combination of stress and urge incontinence
6. Bedwetting: describes nighttime loss of bladder control during sleep; mostly affects children, but can occur in adulthood, and has also been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Urinary incontinence is generally the result of overactive pelvic floor muscles, nerve problems affecting your pelvic muscles, or blockages to your urethra. Conditions that may cause these problems include bladders tones, cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, and an enlarged prostate. Thus, it can be tied to more serious conditions like prostate cancer or chronic conditions like diabetes.
Your doctor may diagnose your voiding dysfunction based on a detailed medical history, a record of the frequency and amount of incontinence you’re experiencing, a bladder function test, urine and blood tests, and and imaging.
Treatments for incontinence symptoms vary, starting with simple exercises and behavioral changes before advancing into medication and surgery. Simpler treatments include pelvic muscle exercises, lifestyle changes (such as maintaining a heathy weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, addressing constipation, and drinking specific amounts at certain times to better control when you urinate), and bladder training. For some cases, doctors may prescribe medication, use inceptions, devices such a catheter, electrical stimulation, and even surgery to help control symptoms.
VA Disability Ratings for Voiding Dysfunction
VA disability ratings for urinary incontinence can be found in its Schedule of Disability Ratings alongside renal dysfunction and urinary tract infection under § 4.115a: Ratings of the genitourinary system—dysfunctions.
There, you can find three subcategories for ratings based around the type of dysfunction and the symptoms they cause. Based on the severity of your condition, you may be granted a disability rating ranging between 0-60%. To determine the primary cause of your condition, and how you will be rated, VA specifically identifies continual urinary leakage, post surgical urinary diversion, urinary incontinence, and stress incontinence as causes of your symptoms.
The three categories for incontinence are Voiding Dysfunction, Urinary Frequency, and Obstructed Voiding, and the following ratings are based on the severity of your symptoms:
- 60%: Requiring the use of an appliance or the wearing of absorbent materials which must be changed more than 4 times per day
- 40%: Requiring the wearing of absorbent materials which must be changed 2 to 4 times per day
- 20%: Requiring the wearing of absorbent materials which must be changed less than 2 times per day
- 40%: Daytime voiding interval less than one hour, or; awakening to void five or more times per night
- 20%: Daytime voiding interval between one and two hours, or; awakening to void three to four times per night
- 10%: Daytime voiding interval between two and three hours, or; awakening to void two times per night
- 30%: Urinary retention requiring intermittent or continuous catheterization
- 10%: Marked obstructive symptomatology (hesitancy, slow or weak stream, decreased force of stream) with any one or combination of the following:
- 1. Post void residuals greater than 150 cc.
- 2. Uroflowmetry; markedly diminished peak flow rate (less than 10 cc/sec).
- 3. Recurrent urinary tract infections secondary to obstruction.
- 4. Stricture disease requiring periodic dilatation every 2 to 3 months
- 0%: Obstructive symptomatology with or without stricture disease requiring dilatation 1 to 2 times per year
To apply for VA disability benefits, you must be able to establish a service connection for your voiding dysfunction or other form of urinary incontinence. Usually, veterans are granted service connection for one of these conditions on a secondary basis. That means it is tied directly to another, directly service-connected condition such as Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer, or diabetes. Evidence has also shown urinary incontinence may result from PTSD.
Basically, to establish a secondary service connection, you will need to receive a current medical diagnosis for your dysfunction, along with medical evidence directly tying it to your primary, service-connected condition.
To back up farther, when you apply for a direct service connection for any other condition (in this case, one that’s causing voiding dysfunction or urinary incontinence), you must provide three things:
- A current diagnosis of that condition,
- Documentation of an in-service event, injury, or illness that caused or exacerbated your condition, and
- A medical nexus that links your current diagnosis to the in-service incident.
Assistance With Your Claim
Voiding dysfunction in itself may not seem like a dangerous condition, but it can be caused by something much more serious, the diagnosis of which is paramount to your well-being. On top of that, voiding dysfunction can be extremely frustrating and inconvenient due to its frequency, and may also cause embarrassment, particularly if it occurs in public. Veterans who are struggling with voiding dysfunction should not hesitate to seek professional medical assistance to diagnose the problem, as well as its possible causes, and then seek VA disability benefits should you suspect that it is tied to your military service.
If you are ready to submit your first claim for VA disability compensation for voiding dysfunction, or you have been denied compensation and seek a strong appeal, contact us today to help. You can reach us at 844-VET-LAWS or contact us online to get the best representation for your case.