Incontinence is devastating problem that impacts millions of American men and women. Although diapers are acceptable in toddlers, it is not very acceptable in middle aged and older men and women. This blog will discuss the common problem of urinary incontinence and what are some of the solutions for this common urologic problem.
Do you visit the bathroom more than usual? Or worse, do you not make it on time to the bathroom because your bladder is out of control? This is nothing to be ashamed of, and can be solved if addressed properly.
Urinary incontinence is a common problem resulting in the loss of bladder control. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that is so sudden and strong you do not get to a toilet in time.
If urinary incontinence affects your daily activities, then the person must visit the doctor. The earlier rehabilitation techniques are started, the lesser the complications and the better the results.
There are different reasons for urinary incontinence but the main reason for women is pregnancy and child birth.
Pregnancy puts pressure on the bladder and the urethra and normal delivery further weakens the muscles needed for bladder control. Women who have had a C-section are less prone to face this problem but in many cases pregnancy itself can affect the muscles which causes urinary incontinence after delivering the baby.
Worldwide 25 per cent of women above 40 years and 40 per cent of women above 65 years have urinary incontinence.
A high percentage of these women are prone to urinary incontinence due to multiple pregnancies and childbirth. However, despite providing women with educational leaflets during their pregnancy and carrying other awareness activities, not everyone with the problem seeks medical assistance.
The problem is more common in women that give birth to babies that weigh 8 pounds or more and in patients that have a complicated or prolonged labor.
I recommend that all women practice pelvic exercises, which are important to tighten these muscles. Exercises such as Kegels are now getting popular and more women are aware of it.
Other reasons for incontinence include ageing and menopause, obesity, neurological causes, and diabetes. After menopause women are more prone to incontinence as there is loss of estrogen hormone which has a direct effect on the bladder and the muscles supporting it.
One form of treatment is lifestyle modification. Certain drinks and foods act as diuretics, these include alcohol, coffee, decaffeinated tea and coffee, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, foods high in spice or sugar. We ask women to reduce the intake of these foods and drinks.
Another option is to reduce the bladder irritants. These foods and fluids cause urinary frequency, urgency, and urinary incontinence. A complete list of bladder irritants is shown at the end of this blog.
Diabetic patients are asked to keep their sugar in control, and obese patients are put on a diet. Physiotherapy is another method to manage the disease. Bladder training and pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels are taught to patients to be performed at home on a daily basis.
In some causes electrical stimulation is performed, said the doctor. Gentle electrical stimulation can be effective in some types of incontinence and one may need multiple sessions over a period of few months, in addition to exercises.
Bottom Line: You don’t have to suffer incontinence in silence. Help is available. See your doctor.
List of Common Bladder Irritants*
Coffee (including decaffeinated)
Cranberries and cranberry juice
Milk Products: milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, ice cream
Sugar especially artificial sweeteners, saccharin, aspartame, corn sweeteners, honey, fructose, sucrose, lactose Tea
Tomatoes and tomato juice
Vitamin B complex
*Most people are not sensitive to ALL of these products; your goal is to find the foods that make YOUR symptoms worse