Urinary Incontinence-Common Problem With Good Solutions

Millions of American women suffer from loss of urine or urinary incontinence. The problem is a source of embarrassment and lead to social isolation and even depression. This blog will discuss the three types of incontinence and offer some suggestions for solving the problem.

Some women with incontinence have only occasional leakage such as when they have a respiratory tract infection and have a severe coughing spell, while others may have a great deal of leakage on a daily basis. This can result in various limitations on activities, and can seriously impact quality of life. Bladder control issues are not a normal part of aging and they are not something you should have to live with.

Urologists and gynecologists are physicians with training in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions that include urinary incontinence.

There are three common categories of urinary incontinence.

  1. Stress incontinence is loss of urine that occurs with activities that increase abdominal pressure (such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, and exercising). This rise in pressure within the abdomen is transmitted to the pelvic organs including the bladder which can result in urine leaking through the urethra, the tube from the bladder to the outside of the body. This is usually due to weakness of the muscle that controls urination and support structures, often related to hormone (estrogen) deficiency which is common after menopause and prior vaginal delivery.
  1. Urge incontinence, which is also often referred to as overactive bladder, describes loss of urine with a sense of urgency or inability to hold urine long enough to reach a bathroom. This is usually due to over-activity of the bladder. Often women with urge incontinence report leaking with specific triggers such as running water or putting a key in the lock. Other associated symptoms often include frequent daytime and nighttime voids.
  1. Mixed incontinence is the common situation when women have components of both stress and urge incontinence.

Risk factors for the development of urinary incontinence include pregnancy, vaginal delivery, pelvic surgery, and pelvic radiation. Other potential risk factors include obesity, smoking, caffeine intake, chronic constipation leading to excessive straining, repetitive heavy lifting and neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Certain basic interventions can reduce the risk of developing incontinence or even the severity of leakage.

For instance, maintaining a normal weight, or losing weight if overweight, can be extremely helpful. In fact, studies show that as little as a 10 percent loss in body weight can improve leakage symptoms by up to 50 percent. In addition, avoiding chronic straining which occurs with chronic constipation can prevent injury to the muscles and nerves of the pelvic floor. A diet with plenty of fiber and fluids, as well as good lifting technique, is key.

Next, if you are a smoker, strongly consider kicking the smoking habit. Besides improving your bladder health, there are countless other benefits to your overall well-being if you can quit. Also, avoid significant caffeine intake as it may be a major bladder irritant in some women.

Finally, make sure to keep your pelvic floor muscles nice and strong — this requires learning how to do Kegel exercises. (For more information on Kegel exercises, please go to my website, http://www.neilbaum.com)

Unfortunately, sometimes these basic interventions are not as successful as we would like. Luckily, a significant percentage of women who seek help for urinary incontinence will experience significant improvement in their leakage.

For this reason, women with bothersome leakage should always feel comfortable raising this issue with their physicians. A wide range of treatment options exist, ranging from physical therapy to surgery, and are being used every day to help women with leakage improve their quality of life. If your leakage is bothersome, get evaluated and learn about your treatment options.

Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more confident you will be in directing your treatment.

Bottom Line: You don’t have to suffer the consequences of urinary incontinence. Help is available; you don’t have to depend on Depends!

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