Urinary Incontinence: Gotta Go, Gotta Go Right Now!

Urinary incontinence affects millions of Americans and causes havoc with their lives.  It I a source of embarrassment, shame and often depression.  Other medical consequences of incontinence include skin irritation, urinary tract infections, and pelvic pain.  This blog will discuss treatment options including medications and non-medical solutions.

Urinary incontinence means that the person suffering from it starts losing his/her control over the bladder. This leads to several kinds of problems of the urinary system including sudden urination, slow but steady leakage of urine, or dripping of urine when one undertakes a physically stressful exercise like lifting weight.  Those who have incontinence often lose urine with coughing, laughing, or sneezing.

Although this is a common medical problem, many suffers continue to suffer in silence, living a secluded and reclusive life.

While these causes cannot be controlled, it is important to take note of and control factors that can worsen the condition:

Medication

If you have a problem of urinary incontinence and the symptoms have gone from bad to worse, you need to check with your doctor about the medication or drugs you have been taking. For, chances are that some of these may be exacerbating the problem. Certain drugs to treat high blood pressure are linked to an increase in incontinence.

Alpha blockers dilate blood vessels to reduce blood pressure and they also often relax the muscles of the bladder, furthering urine flow. Some drugs to treat depression can contribute to worsening incontinence symptoms.

Anti-depressants work by relaxing the nerves of the mind and may also affect the ability of the bladder muscles to contract (side effects).

Diuretics are another set of drugs that are associated with increased

urination. In fact, these drugs are also called ‘water pills’, and are designed to flush out excess salt from your body to treat conditions like high blood pressure.

Caffeine

Caffeine is an important component of our daily lives as most of us consume it through coffee, tea and chocolates. Excessive consumption of caffeine is associated with the problem of increased urination. While mild consumption doesn’t have a negative effect, excess consumption can affect the renal system, as caffeine is a stimulant. It stimulates the cardiovascular system, increasing the heart rate as well as blood pressure. This increases the rate of blood to be filtered. It also relaxes the bladder’s detrusor muscles, causing them to feel fuller more frequently. So, limiting caffeine intake is healthy.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major health concern of today as it affects the functioning of the entire body. It also increases the risk of urinary incontinence, as well as its severity. Efforts should be made to prevent and control diabetes by keeping your weight under control, exercising regularly and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Excessive weight also puts extra pressure on the pelvic muscles and weakens them. Therefore, it is also important to control body weight.

Solutions

Besides controlling the aforementioned factors, it is important to take medical help to treat and manage urinary incontinence.

In some patients, adopting behavioral changes may help. For example, decreasing fluid intake to average levels, urinating more frequently to decrease the amount of urine that is held in the bladder and keeping regular bowel habits (as constipation can worsen the problem) may have a positive effect.

Pelvic muscle training exercises, aka Kegel exercises, can specifically help those who suffer from incontinence. The exercises help patients exercise better control of their detrusor muscles.

Weight loss has also been shown to help decrease symptoms in overweight people.

Bottom Line:  Urinary incontinence is a common condition affecting millions of American men and women.  Help is available and no one needs to “depend on Depends”!

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