What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary Incontinence is a common and embarrassing problem that involves the loss of bladder control. Depending on its severity, you may experience occasional urine leakage or feel a sudden and unpredictable strong urge to urinate.
There are several types of urinary incontinence:
You may leak urine when you exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting something heavy.
You have a sudden and strong urge to urinate, followed by involuntary urine leakage. There is only a short time frame between your urge to urinate and the release of uncontrolled urine.
Your bladder may not empty completely, resulting in the constant dribbling of urine.
You may not reach the bathroom in time due to mobility issues or other medical conditions, and urine is released as a result.
You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence.
What are some common causes of urinary incontinence?
Most of the time, urinary incontinence is a symptom of another medical condition, or a result of everyday habits. It is rarely a disease by itself.
Some common causes of urinary incontinence include:
Consuming certain bladder-stimulating food and drinks, such as chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks and large doses of vitamin C
Urinary tract infection
Bacteria from the urinary tract infection may irritate your bladder and cause you to have strong urges to urinate
Your bladder’s ability to store urine may decrease as you age. Involuntary bladder contractions may also become more frequent.
An enlarged prostate can squeeze your urethra and affect urine flow.
Women will produce less oestrogen after menopause, which keeps the bladder and urethra lining healthy. With less oestrogen to maintain a healthy urinary system, women who have undergone menopause will be at higher risk of developing urinary incontinence.
How is urinary incontinence diagnosed?
Your symptoms, as well as the type of urinary incontinence you have, will help guide treatment decisions. Your urologist may conduct a physical examination and obtain your medical history. You may also be required to perform activities that demonstrate incontinence, such as coughing.
Your urologist may also recommend additional diagnostic tests, such as urine tests or pelvic scans to confirm the symptoms and determine the type of urinary incontinence you have.
What treatments are there for urinary incontinence?
A combination of treatments may be used to treat urinary incontinence. They may include:
Pelvic floor exercises
Your urologist may recommend that you work with a physiotherapist who can guide you on exercises to strengthen this set of muscles.
Your urologist may prescribe medication to relax your bladder, and make it easier to urinate or empty your bladder completely.
Your urologist may get you to keep a diary of the number of times you urinate and leak, so you can plan to empty your bladder before any leakage happens.
Bladder control products
You may wish to purchase absorbent products that are able to absorb urine leakages.
If other treatments do not work, your urologist may recommend surgery to treat the problems that cause urinary incontinence.