Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

Overview of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is also known as the loss of bladder control. It is very common, even though people may not speak about it because it may be embarrassing. Severity can range from barely leaking if you sneeze to having to urinate so bad that you are not able to make it to the bathroom. Urinary incontinence is typically thought to be a problem with old age, but this is not always the case. If you are inconvenienced by your urinary incontinence, then schedule an appointment with your physician.

Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In most cases, people leak a little when they sneeze and others cannot make it to the bathroom.

There are four main types of urinary incontinence.

  1. The first type is considered stress incontinence, which is a urine leak when you put pressure on the bladder when you sneeze, cough, exercise, laugh, or lift heavy.
  2. The second type is considered overflow incontinence. This occurs when you constantly or frequently dribble urine because your bladder does not completely empty.
  3. Functional incontinence is a physical or mental impairment that does not allow you to make it to the bathroom in time. This is most common in those with arthritis. In people with arthritis, they may not be able to unbutton their pants in time.
  4. Urge incontinence is when you have the sudden urge to go and then an involuntary loss of urine. This may be caused by an infection, diabetes, or a neurologic disease.

Mixed incontinence is when more than one of these types are found.

You may not be comfortable speaking with your physician about this condition, but if it is changing your daily life, then you will need to. It is important to see your physician soon because it may increase the risk of falls in older adults because they are running to the restroom, it may restrict your activities, and it may be an indication to other problems.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a symptom that is caused by physical problems, medical conditions, or everyday habits. When you speak with your physician, you will be able to see what the cause is.

The first type of urinary incontinence is considered temporary. This can be caused from illness, drinks, foods, or even medications. There are two main medical conditions that cause temporary urinary incontinence. A urinary tract infection irritates the bladder and creates strong urges to urinate. When you are constipated, the stool in the rectum may cause the nerves to overreact and increase the times you need to urinate. These things may stimulate the bladder or increase the volume or urine. These items may include:

  • Chocolate
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sparkling water
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Large doses of vitamin C
  • Heart medicine, sedatives, muscle relaxants
  • Chili peppers

The other type of urinary incontinence is persistent urinary incontinence. This is caused by a persistent condition from a change or physical problem. Pregnant and childbirth are very common. Hormonal changes, increased weight of the fetus, and vaginal birth can lead to urinary incontinence. It is also common that urinary incontinence occurs in older age, especially once women have gone through menopause. In women, a hysterectomy or any surgery that involves a woman’s reproductive parts may damage the pelvic floor and lead to urinary incontinence. In men, an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer can lead to urinary incontinence as well.

Risk Factors of Urinary Incontinence

As you get older, urinary incontinence becomes more common because the muscle in the bladder and urethra lose their strength.

Being overweight puts pressure on the bladder and allows urine to leak when you cough or sneeze.

Tobacco use is a risk factor of urinary incontinence.

If you have a family member that has urinary incontinence, then it is likely that you will too.

There are many other diseases, such as diabetes, that may lead to urinary incontinence.

Complications with Urinary Incontinence

If you experience urinary incontinence, then you may be at a higher risk for skin problems, such as rashes, infections and sores due to the constantly wet skin. Urinary incontinence also leads to urinary tract infections.

You may also be embarrassed of urinary incontinence, which may lead to stress in your relationships. You may be worried about going to events because of the fear that you will not make it to the bathroom. You may also avoid relationships where this may come up.

Prevention of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is not always preventable, but there are many ways that you can live a healthier life to avoid urinary incontinence. The first step is to maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, ask your physician for the best advice in losing weight. If you are already at a healthy weight, then be sure to maintain this weight by eating healthy and getting regular exercise. It is also important to ask your physician for exercises that will help the pelvic floor.

If your urinary incontinence is caused by what you eat or drink, then be sure to avoid your trigger foods and drinks and to eat more fiber to prevent constipation.

It is also essential that you quit smoking. If you have tried to quit in the past, then you will want to ask your physician for the best advice on quitting. If you are trying to quit, ask for help from your family and friends to keep you accountable.

Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence

The first step for diagnosis is to see what type of urinary incontinence that you have. The first step is to go through a health history and physical exam. You may be asked to demonstrate your urinary incontinence, which can be as simple as coughing. A urinalysis may be done. This is a sample of urine that is checked for any sign of infection or blood.

Your physician may ask that you keep a bladder diary. You will be asked to take note of how much you drink, the amount of urine you produce, when you urinate, if you had the urge to urinate, and the number of times you had urinary incontinence.

One of the main tests that is done is called post-void residual measurement. During this test you will be asked to urinate in a cup. This cup will then ne measured. Then your physician will measure the leftover urine that is in the bladder through a catheter or an ultrasound test. If you have a large amount of urine that is left in the bladder, this shows that you have an obstruction in the urinary tract or a problem with the bladder nerves.

Treatment of Urinary Incontinence

Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of urinary incontinence that you have, the severity, and the cause. You may need a combination of treatments. If there is a condition that needs to be treated, your physician will treat that too. It is likely that your physician will begin with the least invasive treatment and will move further if it does not work.

The first thing to try is behavioral techniques. Bladder training is where you will delay urination when you have the urge to go. You will start by delaying it by ten minutes. The goal for this is to urinate every three hours. Double voiding is another trick that will help you to learn to empty your bladder. This occurs when you urinate and then wait a few minutes and then urinate again. Schedule your bathroom trips. Plan to go to the bathroom every two to four hours, instead of waiting until you feel the need to go. You will also need to manage your diet and fluid to reduce urinary incontinence symptoms. Ask your physician about pelvic floor exercises and how they can help you.

Electrical stimulation may be recommended. This is done by inserting electrodes into the rectum or vagina to strengthen the muscles. This can be very effective for stress incontinence or urge incontinence.

Medications are very common in treatment for urinary incontinence. Ask your physician about what medication may work for you.

Your physician may also recommend a variety of medical devices, interventional therapies, or surgeries. All of these treatments will depend on the conversation that is had between you and your physician. You two will be able to see what the best treatment is for you.

If treatments are not able to completely help you with urinary incontinence, then you may be more comfortable with wearing a pad or a protective garment. These are very slim and will help to protect your clothing. If your urinary incontinence is caused by your bladder not emptying completely, then your physician may recommend a catheter.

Summary of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence may be embarrassing for you. It is important to talk to your physician about what you are going through. There are a variety of causes of urinary incontinence. Your physician will be able to treat you based on what you would like and the cause of the urinary incontinence. Speak with your physician about exactly how you are feeling.

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