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Body & Soul: Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a treatable inconvenience

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Urinary incontinence is a treatable inconvenience

by Jayne Hobbs

Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Have you ever sat for four hours in gridlocked traffic during a snow storm with no bathroom in sight? Or maybe you coughed so hard from one of this year’s bronchial viruses, that urine leakage occurred. Most of us have experienced some form of urinary incontinence (loss of bladder control) in our lifetime.

Urinary incontinence effects one-in-five women, as well as many men. It is a common, and often an embarrassing, problem that for too many years was considered a taboo subject – often claiming the very existence of one’s lifestyle.

We no longer need to hide from the condition, or change our daily activities. Simple lifestyle changes or medical treatments can help with discomfort or urinary incontinence.

TYPES OF URINARY INCONTINENCE*

  1. Stress incontinence happens when urine leaks as a result of pressure that is exerted on the bladder by coughing, laughing, exercising, lifting something heavy or having a full bladder.
  2. Urge incontinence is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by involuntary urine leakage. You may need to urinate often and throughout the night, and this may be caused by a minor infection or a more severe illness.
  3. Overflow incontinence is the frequent or constant dribbling of urine. The bladder does not empty completely.
  4. Functional incontinence is due to a physical impairment, such as arthritis, when you cannot make it to the toilet in time.
  5. Mixed incontinence simply means that you experience more than one type of incontinence.

* Visit your doctor if you are experiencing any type of incontinence that is frequent.

Causes

  • Temporary urinary incontinence can be caused by certain foods, drinks and medications that act as diuretics, such as alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, sugar or acidic foods, heart and blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants and sedatives, in addition to treatable urinary tract infections.
  • Persistent urinary incontinence is caused by physical problems, or changes, such as pregnancy, aging and prostate gland issues in men.

Increased Risk Factors

  • Gender: Women are more likely to have urinary incontinence due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and normal female anatomy. However, men with prostate problems are at an increased risk.
  • Age: Muscles in the bladder and urethra lose strength as we age, and the bladder cannot hold as much urine.
  • Weight: Increased pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles are weakened.
  • Diet: Certain foods, drinks and medications can act as diuretics.
  • Disease: Diabetes or neurological conditions.

Treatments

  • Diet management: Maintain a healthy weight and avoid trigger foods.
  • Bladder training: Try to delay urination when you get the urge, or double void to completely empty your bladder.
  • Exercise: Strengthen pelvic muscles by contracting the muscles used to stop urination and hold for two to five seconds, then relax the muscles for three to five seconds. Increase time to 10 seconds and try to repeat 10 times per day.
  • Medications: See your doctor.
  • Absorbent undergarments or pads: Use core products that absorb bladder leaks and odours, which also help to relieve anxiety.
  • Lifestyle changes: For urge incontinence, use a night light, and remove rugs, furniture or anything else that you might trip over when rushing to the bathroom.

For more information visit mayoclinic.org, emedicinehealth.com, healthline.com, webmed.com.


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