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Incontinence: Your Don't Need to Just Live With It

Meghana Giridhar - February 20, 2014 03:17 PM

Incontinence which is an involuntary leaking of urine is an embarrassing problem for many. It occurs due to an overactive bladder that gets squeezed at the wrong time for reasons such as physical labor, excessive laughing and coughing. These “accidents” are usually more common among women than men and can interfere with daily activities. This is an issue not spoken about often due to the social stigma associated with it. But it is something many women experience as the numbers tell the story.

According to the National Association for Continence, 

•    25 million adult Americans experience transient or chronic urinary incontinence.
•    75-80% of those sufferers are women, 9-13 million of whom have severe symptoms.
•    Consumer research reveals that one in four women over the age of 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily.
•    One-third of men and women ages 30-70 have experienced loss of bladder control at some point in their adult lives and may be still living with the symptoms.
•    Of men and women ages 30-70 who awaken during the night to use the bathroom, more than one-third get up twice or more per night to urinate.

Symptoms of Incontinence:

•    Leakage of urine.
•    Painful urination
•    Not being able to completely empty the bladder
•    Having to visit the bathroom more often
•    Waking up often with the need to urinate.
•    Bed-wetting
•    Frequent urinary tract and bladder infections.

Incontinence can be caused by everyday habits, medical conditions or physical problems. Some of the common causes of temporary incontinence include medications, alcohol, caffeine, bladder irritation and constipation. Incontinence can also persist and those causes are different. Some of them include:

•    Pregnancy and childbirth
•    Aging
•    Hysterectomy
•    Painful-bladder syndrome
•    Enlarged prostate
•    Prostate cancer
•    Bladder cancer or bladder stones
•    Neurological disorders
•    Weak pelvic floor muscles leading to additional inter-abdominal pressure which fails to stop urine from exiting.

It is vital to not ignore the issue and get a thorough evaluation by a doctor. There are three kinds of doctors specializing in urinary disorders.

•    Urogynecologist: An obstetrician-gynecologist with additional training in problems related to a woman's pelvic floor that helps support and control the bladder.

•    Urologist: Specializes in male and female urinary disorders.

•    Geriatrician: A medical doctor managing care of older adults and dealing with problems related to common issues, such as urinary incontinence.

Treatments include a combination of lifestyle changes and behavioral techniques as well as medical procedures.

Lifestyle Changes that Could Help with Incontinence:

•    Drinking less fluid and avoiding coffee
•    Losing weight if overweight so less pressure is placed on the abdomen.
•    Kegel exercises that strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor
•    Bladder training by delaying urinating in small degrees to eventually increase the time between restroom breaks.
•    Including magnesium rich food such as corn, potatoes and bananas  which is important for proper muscle and nerve function could relieve incontinence because it reduces blad
•    Ensuring a daily intake of Vitamin D (600 IU for women) with fortified milk, eggs and fish along with plenty of sunshine for good bone health that can help strengthen the pelvic floor.
•    Biofeedback by electrical sensors that monitor muscles and and make changes to reduce incontinence.
•    Quitting smoking
•    Hypnotherapy whereby the patient is put in a state of deep relaxation allowing them to feel in control of the body.

When incontinence is a persistent state:

•    Surgery: Doctors recommend putting a mesh beneath the urethra. This provides support and reduces the sinking of the urethra that causes urine leakage.
•    Continence devices such as an artificial sphincter or a catheter.
•    Urethral inserts: Small, tampon-like disposable plugs available by prescription to be inserted into the urethra to prevent urine from leaking out. Urethral inserts are available by prescription.
•    Pessaries: A silicone or latex device, usually shaped like a ring or a disc inserted into the vagina.
•    Absorbent products such as specially designed briefs, liners and pads.

What’s important to realize is that incontinence is a medical problem and your doctor can help you find a solution that will allow you to live the life you want without inhibitions.


Click here to read Meghana Giridhar’s blog, “Sleep Disorders in Seniors: It’s More Common Than You Think”.

Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Coordinator and is part of eCareDiary's founding team.  In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms.

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