Urinary incontinence can be an embarrassing problem many people face. It involves loss of bladder control that can range from occasionally leakages when force is applied such as by coughing or sneezing, to sudden strong urges that cause you to be unable to reach the bathroom in time. Unfortunately having urinary incontinence can affect your daily activities and make you uncomfortable going out for fear of having an accident.
There is no reason to be embarrassed. Many people suffer from urinary incontinence due to some reasons including aging, and with available treatments, it is still possible to engage in your favorite activities without fear.
The symptoms of incontinence include occasional minor urine leaks or losing small to moderate amounts of urine leaking on a more regular basis. How much and how the leakage occurs will determine what type of incontinence you may suffer from. You may experience:
While most people believe that age is what causes incontinence, it is only one possible reason. The cause will largely have to do with what type of incontinence you are experiencing. Some symptoms of temporary incontinence include:
If you are experiencing persistent or more frequent incontinence, the cause of it could be an underlying condition such as:
While any of the above causes may be linked to your urinary incontinence, there are also risk factors that can increase your chances of developing it. Women tend to experience it more than men, and as you get older, you are more likely to experience it. Other risk factors include being overweight, smoking, diabetes, and a family history of incontinence.
The treatment that will be used to treat your urinary incontinence will largely depend on the type of incontinence you have and the severity of the symptoms. Some types may also require a combination of treatments to get it best under control. Some of the most common treatments used for urinary incontinence include:
Behavioral treatments may be the first treatment your doctor recommends for many types of incontinence. It can include bladder training, where you delay urination after feeling the urge to go, planning scheduled bathroom breaks, and managing your fluid intake and diet. For cases such as overflow incontinence, they may recommend double voiding.
If the cause of your incontinence is linked to poor pelvic muscles, such as cases caused by pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, pelvic floor muscle exercises may be recommended. These exercises involve tightening the muscles as you would to stop the flow of urine and holding it for five seconds before relaxing for five seconds. You will need to perform three sets of ten a day and work up to holding each time for 10 seconds.
Electrical stimulation involves electrodes being inserted into the vaginal area or rectum where a gentle stimulation will be applied to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This is often used for stress or urge incontinence and can require multiple treatments for at least several months.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help control your urinary incontinence. Medications used to treat urge incontinence include anticholinergics, Mirabegron, and alpha blockers which can be used for both urge and overflow incontinence. Women who have incontinence due to weakened tissues in the urethra and vagina may be prescribed a topical estrogen.
Medical devices can be used to help reduce the symptoms and prevent them from interfering with your daily activities. Your doctor may prescribe a urethral insert, which is a disposable tampon-like device that can be inserted before you are performing an activity that can trigger your incontinence. This can prevent leakage during the activity and is removed before you urinate. A pessary is a stiff ring that is inserted into the vagina where it works all day and is usually prescribed for those for are suffering from incontinence due to prolapse.
Other interventional therapies can also help prevent leakage and improve the muscles to reduce symptoms. Some doctors may use nerve stimulators which are implanted under the skin and deliver gentle impulses to the nerves of the bladder to control urge incontinence. This is usually ordered if other therapies have failed. Bulking material injections are also used and are an injection of a synthetic material which can help to keep your urethra closed to reduce leaking. Botox has also been used for overactive bladders. It is injected into the bladder muscles to strengthen them.
Surgical procedures are usually one of the last options after other treatments have failed. Some of the treatments available include:
In cases where urinary treatments cannot rectify your incontinence, you should stock up on products that can help eliminate the inconvenience and discomfort of urinary incontinence. These products can allow you to feel confident when performing your daily activities. Products include catheters which involve inserting a soft tube catheter into your urethra several times a day to drain your bladder. You can also purchase pads and protective undergarments worn daily to absorb leakage and keep you dry.
Don’t let urinary incontinence prevent you from performing the daily activities that you enjoy. If you are experiencing leaking, and suspect you have incontinence, contact your doctor to find out what treatment will work best for you.