Urinary Incontinence: Everything You Need to Know to Get Help
Urinary incontinence is everywhere. 14 percent of American women have it. In men, the prevalence of incontinence is about 3 to 11 percent. Across the world, it is one of the most common medical problems. Yet many people don’t know what it is.
What are the most common urinary incontinence symptoms and urinary incontinence causes? How can someone prevent incontinence from occurring? What are some treatment options, including non-surgical ones?
Answer these questions and you can maintain your bladder and urinary health for years to come. Here is your quick guide.
What Is Urinary Incontinence?
The brain and the bladder help with urinary function. The brain sends signals to the bladder, which stores the urine. These signals contract muscles in the bladder and allow urine to pass through the urethra, carrying the urine out of the body.
Urinary incontinence occurs when a person has leaking urine that they do not control. It is not a distinct medical condition. It is a symptom of another condition, yet it can be embarrassing and painful.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are a few distinct types of urinary incontinence. Each has its own symptoms and causes. For someone to receive treatment for their incontinence, they must know what type they have.
Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) involves stress to the muscles. The pelvic and bladder muscles become weak and unable to hold back the flow of urine.
Wear and tear on the muscles is the most common cause. Someone may perform excessive stretching that damages their muscles. Athletes who do running or rowing are at particularly high risk.
Old age also deteriorates the strength of muscles. SUI is more common in older people than younger ones. It is more common amongst women than men, though doctors are not sure why.
Overactive bladder (OAB) is also known as urgency incontinence. It involves miscued brain signals.
The brain tells the bladder to empty its supply of urine on occasions when the bladder is not full. The muscles may become overactive, contracting before the bladder fills up.
The most common symptoms are having a sudden urge to urinate and urinating multiple times during the day. The urge to urinate may come regardless of what the person has had to drink.
As with SUI, OAB is common amongst older people. People with prostate problems tend to have high rates of it. People post-menopause also tend to have it more often.
Overflow incontinence involves urine production. The body produces urine to remove excess waste and water from the body. But someone can produce more urine than their bladder can hold, causing incontinence.
Most people with overflow incontinence experience frequent urination of small amounts. They may not feel relief after they go to the bathroom.
Overflow incontinence is usually a sign of a prostate problem. People who have had prostate cancer or prostate surgery may experience it.
Mixed incontinence occurs when someone has SUI and OAB at the same time. They feel the urge to urinate while experiencing constant urine leaks. Their symptoms may get worse after exercise, or they may urinate after they cough or sneeze.
Temporary Urinary Incontinence
As the name suggests, temporary urinary incontinence is an acute condition. It occurs after someone has food, drink, or medication that stimulates the bladder.
Caffeine, alcohol, and sweeteners encourage the body to produce more urine. A person may take diuretic medication like Microzide to control their blood pressure or heart disease.
Other medical conditions can create temporary incontinence. A urinary tract infection can irritate the bladder, resulting in incontinence. Once the condition is treated, the incontinence will go away.
People can prevent incontinence in several ways. Maintaining a healthy weight improves all aspects of health, including urinary health. A person should keep to a healthy diet and resolute exercise routine.
Their exercise should include pelvic floor exercises. Squats and split tabletops stretch the muscles in the pelvis without tearing them.
A person should also avoid bladder irritants. It is okay to drink one cup of coffee at breakfast, but someone should not go for seconds.
Urinary Incontinence Treatments
A doctor can diagnose urinary incontinence through a person’s description of their symptoms. They can confirm the symptoms with a physical exam and a urine test. These procedures will help them determine if the person has an infection.
All types of urinary incontinence can be treated. Someone can train their bladder, controlling their urge to urinate. Scheduling when they go to the bathroom can minimize the inconvenience of incontinence.
Medications are also available. Estrogen can reinforce damaged tissues in the urethra and vagina. Anticholinergics can calm overactive bladders.
Medical devices can be effective. Botox injections can relax the bladder muscles so someone does not feel the need to use the toilet. Someone with a urethra can receive urethral inserts, which help them adhere to a urination schedule. There are also apps to help people with incontinence manage their condition more effectively. Here are just a few in to consider (and most are free).
Surgery is the last resort. A surgeon can place meshes into the bladder to prevent urine from escaping.
If another medical condition is causing incontinence, that condition must receive treatment as well. People should follow guides to beating heart disease and other chronic ailments.
Get Compassionate Help
Urinary incontinence involves a loss of bladder control. Someone may have stress incontinence that causes leaks of urine. A person may also have an overactive bladder that makes them feel a strong urge to urinate.
Incontinence is usually a sign of another condition. Someone may have a bladder infection or weak muscles.
Prevention involves maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Treatment includes bladder training, avoiding drinks that cause excessive urination, and curing the medical condition that sparks incontinence.
When you need medical help, you should turn to compassionate experts. Brown & Toland Physicians serves the Bay Area. Find a doctor today.
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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.