5 Things You Need to Know About Urinary Incontinence
24 Feb 2023
As we get older, our bodies go through a multitude of different changes, with old age affecting everything from our skin and bones to our physical and mental agility. That said, many of these things are something we can influence, at least to some degree. But what do you do when there are things that you don’t have control over? This is how many people feel when they start experiencing urinary incontinence.
Although it is a common problem, it’s rarely talked about, mainly due to embarrassment. Because the symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, it is important to familiarize yourself with the condition so that you can take the necessary approach to treating it. Below, five things you need to know about urinary incontinence, along with tips on how to cope with it.
What is urinary incontinence and who does it affect?
Simply put, urinary incontinence is a condition that involves unintentional leakage of urine. In other words, the person experiencing it does not want to urinate, but the condition makes it difficult for them to control it. Involuntary passing of urine may occur due to various factors. It happens mainly due to loss of bladder control, when the person has weakened or lost control over urethral sphincters.
Although it’s a condition that mostly affects older people, women and men as young as 30 can experience it. According to statistics, it affects over 33 million people in the U.S. alone. Also, females are generally more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence than males.
What are some common urinary incontinence treatment options?
Being unable to prevent urine from leaking out can be uncomfortable and downright embarrassing for a lot of people. This is why many of them turn to various treatments to help prevent urinary incontinence or at least reduce it. Many times, this will involve some type of procedure.
For instance, laser therapies such as MonaLisa Touch for urinary incontinence can help female patients stimulate proper vaginal tissue function. Sling procedure can help prevent urine leakage by inserting mesh under the bladder, colposuspension includes bladder neck lifting to help relieve the symptoms, while the insertion of an artificial sphincter can help with urine flow control. Other ways of coping with urinary incontinence include using particular medical devices, medications, and treating the condition through bladder training.
How many different types of urinary incontinence are there?
Depending on the severity and symptoms, as well as the patients’ age, lifestyle, and general health, patients may experience different types of urinary incontinence. The most common types are stress and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence typically includes passing of smaller amounts of urine. It usually occurs when the person coughs, laughs, sneezes, exercises or lifts something heavy – basically anything that puts pressure on the bladder. Urge incontinence, however, occurs when the person cannot delay going to the bathroom due to intense, sudden urge to urinate. The symptom is often associated with overactive bladder syndrome. There’s also overflow incontinence, which involves chronic urinary retention and results in frequent urinary leakage, making it impossible to completely empty the bladder. Finally, there’s total incontinence, which is severe and involves constant passing of urine. It is also possible for patients to experience a combination of two types – usually urge and stress incontinence.
What are the most common causes and risk factors for urinary incontinence?
Sometimes, urinal leakage may occur as a result of damaged or weakened pelvic floor muscles. This can happen during vaginal childbirth, or as a result of hysterectomy. Other times, damaged or weak pelvis will be due to obesity or certain neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease).
Some people may experience urinary incontinence because there’s a problem with their detrusor muscles, which results in a sudden urge to use the toilet. Others may leak urine because of a bladder obstruction such as bladder stones, constipation, and an enlarged prostate gland. Or, they may be taking medications such as diuretic, antidepressants, sedatives, hormone replacement therapy, etc. If you smoke, are older, are a woman, are obese, have a family history of urinary incontinence, suffer from diabetes, spinal cord injury, kidney disease, or if you’ve had a stroke, you are also at a higher risk of urinary incontinence.
What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence and how is it diagnosed?
The most common symptom patients with urinary incontinence experience is the involuntary leakage. Still, the symptoms vary depending on the type of incontinence. Depending on what caused it, urinary incontinence can be both a short-term and long-term condition.
If the condition chronically affects your daily life, leading you to limit or completely avoid social interactions, it is recommended that you visit a doctor. They may suggest lifestyle changes along with bladder training, pelvic floor exercises, medicines, and incontinence products to help stop leaks. However, if these don’t work, they may recommend a laser therapy or a surgical procedure to address the condition and prevent or reduce its uncomfortable symptoms.
Addressing urinary incontinence is vital
The disruption of proper urinal storing and passing process can happen due to multiple reasons. What’s important is that you identify possible causes for your particular case, and consult with a doctor about treatment options. The sooner you address it, the easier it’ll be to cope with this condition and maybe even prevent it altogether.
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