Urinary incontinence affects millions of American men and women. It is a condition that is a source of embarrassment, depression, and lead to social isolation. This blog will review urinary incontinence and what can be done to help those who suffer from this condition.
People suffering from urinary incontinence — loss of bladder control — have been advised to seek prompt medical advice as simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can cure some men and women with the problem and most can have improvement in their voiding symptoms.
Some patients may feel uncomfortable discussing incontinence with their doctor. But if incontinence is frequent or is affecting their quality of life, it is important to seek medical advice because urinary incontinence may also indicate a more serious underlying condition. The condition may restrict their activities and limit social interaction while it also poses an increased risk of falls in older adults as they rush to the toilet at night when the lighting is poor.
Common symptoms of urinary incontinence are occasional minor leaks of urine or wetting clothes frequently. Types of incontinence include stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, mixed incontinence, and problems with emptying the bladder. Bladder irritants such as alcohol, caffeine, decaffeinated tea and coffee, carbonated drinks, and artificial sweeteners could cause urinary incontinence. Foods high in spices, sugar or acid, especially citrus fruits, as well as medications can act as diuretics, or water pills, and by increasing the volume of urine result in urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence may also be caused by some easily treatable medical conditions, such as urinary tract infection, which irritates the bladder, causing strong urges to urinate, and sometimes incontinence. Other signs and symptoms of urinary tract infection include a burning sensation when urinating and foul-smelling urine.
Constipation is another cause as the rectum is located near the bladder and the two organs share many of the same nerves. Hard, compacted stools in your rectum cause these nerves to be overactive and increase urinary frequency and sometimes urinary retention. Urinary incontinence can also be a persistent condition caused by underlying physical problems or changes, including pregnancy, childbirth, changes with age, menopause, hysterectomy, enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, obstruction and neurological disorders.
Urinary incontinence isn’t always preventable but certain factors can help decrease the risk of having the condition, such as maintaining a healthy weight; practicing pelvic floor exercises, especially during pregnancy; avoiding bladder irritants, such as caffeine and acidic foods; and eating more fiber, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence could be diagnosed by examining the bladder’s dynamics through an examination conducted with a device that assesses the bladder function. This can be done by taking an X-ray of the bladder at various stages in order to further support the diagnosis.
Bottom line: Don’t let incontinence get you down. See your doctor as you don’t have to suffer in silence