Urinary incontinence is the leaking of urine and having little to no control on your bladder. It can affect men and women of all ages. It is not just a medical problem but also a psychological, emotional and social problem. We don’t exactly know that how many people suffer from urinary incontinence because many of them don’t even report their condition to a doctor, because they are embarrassed and prefer to suffer in silence rather than questioned and get treated for this disease.
Many people think that this is just a part of getting older, but what they don’t know is that people from all age groups can be affected by it. The severity of urinary incontinence ranges from the accidental and occasional leakage of urine after sneezing or coughing to having the urge to urinate with such urgency that you get stressed about not reaching the toilet on time.
Some people can have minor leaks of urine while others might wet their clothes occasionally or regularly. If you suffer from any of the symptoms or types of urinary incontinence explained below, consult your doctor immediately to remedy this problem.
Stress Incontinence – When you cause stress to your bladder during coughing, sneezing, exercising, laughing or by lifting something heavy.
Urge Incontinence – When you have an intense and sudden urge to urinate immediately after the loss of urine involuntarily. This also includes the urge to urinate throughout the night several times and can be caused by neurological disorders or diabetes.
Overflow Incontinence – When you experience constant or frequent dribbling or urine. This often happens to people who have a bladder that never completely empties.
Functional Incontinence – When you are unable to make it to the toilet in time due to a physical or mental impairment. For example, arthritis can disable you from unbuttoning your pants quickly enough to urinate, which can cause involuntary urination.
Mixed Incontinence – When you suffer from one or more types of urinary incontinence.
When Should You Go See A Doctor?
You may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable while discussing such a problem with a doctor, but if your urinary incontinence is frequent and constant or it is affecting the quality of your life and disabling your social life, it is inherent that you seek medical advice and follow any treatment that is prescribed to you. It is crucial that you seek medical help for urinary incontinence, because it may be a precursor of an underlying serious condition and it can cause you to limit your social activities and interactions or even physical activities. In older adults, if the condition is left untreated, it can become the reason for falling as they might struggle to rush to the toilet.
Urinary incontinence is in essence not a disease; rather, it’s a symptom of physical conditions, underlying medical conditions or emotional pr psychological conditions. Only a thorough examination done by a doctor can help you understand the reason behind your urinary incontinence.
Temporary Urinary Incontinence
Certain medications, foods and drinks can enhance urination and stimulate your bladder to produce more urine than normal. They are:
- Tea or decaffeinated coffee
- Corn syrup
- Carbonated drinks
- Artificial sweeteners
- Foods high in sugar, acid or spice especially citrus fruits
- Medication for heart problems, high blood pressure and muscle relaxants
- Excessive doses of vitamin B or C
Urinary Tract Infection
Urinary Tract Infection can also cause urinary incontinence. This type of infection irritates your bladder causing you to feel strong urges to urinate. Other symptoms of UTI are strong or foul-smelling urine or a feeling a burning sensation when you are urinating.
Constipation is another cause of urinary incontinence. Our rectum is anatomically located quite close to our bladder and share many similar nerves. If the stool is hard and compacted, this can cause these nerves to overreact and increase the frequency of urinary release.
Persistent Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence can be a permanent or persistent condition that can be caused by several physical problems such as:
Pregnancy – Hormonal changes and increase in weight can cause stress incontinence.
Childbirth – Vaginal delivery can weaken muscles that are essential for urination control and can sometimes damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue.
Age – Changes that come with age and the aging of the bladder can decrease the bladder’s ability to store urine.
Hysterectomy – in women, many ligaments support the bladder and nerves and a surgery involving a reproductive organ may damage or affect the pelvic floor muscles, thus leading to urinary incontinence.
Enlarged prostate – In men, urinary incontinence usually occurs due to the enlargement of prostate gland, which is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Prostate cancer –Untreated prostate cancer can be the primary cause of urge or stress incontinence or can be a side effect of medications prescribed to treat it.
Neurological disorders – A spinal injury, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or a brain tumour can interfere with the nerve signals that are related to bladder control and can cause urinary incontinence.
Obstruction – A tumour, anywhere in the urinary tract can block the natural flow of urine and can cause overflow incontinence or urine leakage.
Menopause – Women start producing less oestrogen, which is essential for keeping the lining of the urethra and bladder healthy. Such deterioration in tissue can aggravate urinary incontinence.