Things you need to know
- Urinary incontinence is a common condition often leading to embarrassing situations.
- This condition causes the loss of bladder control in a person leading to the involuntarily leaking of urine.
- Urinary incontinence is often a symptom of other underlying urinary problems.
Urinary incontinence is a common problem in which a person loses control over bladder which can lead to leaking of urine. It can range from mild to serious as a person can lose bladder control due to coughing or an urgent and sudden need to urinate.
Urine is stored in the bladder and moves into the urethra to be flushed out of the body. The muscles in your bladder tighten while the urethra muscles relax during urination. An abnormal or weak functioning of these muscles can cause urine leakage.
Urinary incontinence can occur in anyone, however, it is most likely to affect older people and new mothers.
Urinary incontinence symptoms
The primary signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence is the involuntary leaking of urine. However, more specific symptoms depend upon the type of urinary incontinence.
There are four types of urinary incontinence:
Stress incontinence – In stress incontinence, you experience urinary leakage due to a pressure on your bladder. This pressure can be a result of coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting weight.
Urge incontinence – Urge incontinence is characterised by a sudden and intense urge to pass urine. It is often a result of some underlying condition such as infection or diabetes.
Overflow incontinence – In this condition, you experience a frequent and constant dribbling of urine even after passing urine as your bladder is unable to empty itself fully.
Functional incontinence – Functional incontinence is caused as a result of some physical or mental restraint in the form of medical conditions. Arthritis, dementia and psychological issues are some common causes of functional incontinence.
Mixed incontinence – It is possible to experience more than one type of urinary incontinence. Mixed incontinence can happen due to increased urge to urinate, pressure on bladder and underlying medical conditions, combined.
Urinary incontinence causes
There is no single reason behind urinary incontinence. It can be caused by a range of factors including lifestyle habits and medical problems.
Some common urinary incontinence causes include:
- Drinks that stimulate the bladder and increase urine volume – such as alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks
- Foods that are high in spice, sugar or acid
- Urinary tract infection
- Prostate enlargement
- Blockage in urinary tract
- Neurological disorders
Risk factors of urinary incontinence
While urinary incontinence can impact any person, some people are more vulnerable to being affected by this disease. Common risk factors include:
- Gender (being a woman)
- Advanced age
- Being obese or overweight
- Family history
- Underlying medical problems like diabetes
Urinary incontinence treatment
Urinary incontinence treatment will be dependent on factors like the severity of symptoms, type of incontinence and your overall health.
The following tests and procedures are done to diagnose this condition:
- Urine analysis
- Inputs of bladder diary
- Postvoid residual measurement
Urinary incontinence can be treated with lifestyle changes including behavioural techniques, medication, use of implants or medical devices and surgery. Common treatment protocols include:
- Bladder training
- Double voiding
- Scheduled toilet trips
- Fluid and diet management
- Pelvic floor muscle exercises
- Use of medical devices like urethral insert and pessary
- Interventional procedures
You can prevent urinary incontinence by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, training your bladder and eating a healthy diet.
If left untreated, urinary incontinence can cause skin irritation and urinary tract infections.
Urinary incontinence can be effectively cured and controlled through lifestyle changes and medications.