LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY
Urinary Incontinence: Causes, Symptoms, And How To Prevent It
Urinary incontinence is a medical problem which affects almost a third of the US population, according to the American Urological Association. Also known as involuntary urination, urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control or any uncontrolled leakage of urine. It is far more common in women than men and can cause a problem in your everyday life.
Types and symptoms
Urinary incontinence is divided into four main types with their own set of symptoms and causes.
1. Urge incontinence
Caused by an overactive bladder, urge incontinence is characterized by a sudden, unstoppable urge to urinate. Sometimes, the patients can’t even reach the bathroom due to the urgency. Frequently, the patients need to urinate several times during a night.
2. Stress incontinence
Stress incontinence means the defective closure of the bladder and usually occurs after or during physical activity. For example, exercising or coughing can put enough stress on the muscles controlling the bladder, causing it to release urine.
3. Overflow incontinence
Blockage of the urethra, or poor bladder contraction, is responsible for overflow incontinence. The bladder is not empty after urinating, thus leaving certain amounts of urine, which can later leak involuntarily.
4. Functional incontinence
Functional incontinence occurs when patients are unable, because of other health reasons or medications, to reach the bathroom. Mental or physical disability can prevent patients from getting to the toilette in time.
Urinary incontinence doesn’t have to be a consequence of an underlying medical condition. It can also be triggered by certain types of food, drinks, and medication. Chocolate and chili peppers, as well as any spicy or sugary food, should be avoided if you are prone to urinary incontinence. Alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated beverages increase the volume of urine, whereas blood pressure medication and sedatives, including muscle relaxants, act as diuretics and stimulate your bladder.
However, there might be an underlying cause for the urinary incontinence that cannot be easily dealt with but rather only contained. Consult with a doctor on how to proceed if you have an underlying condition:
- pregnancy – changes in the hormonal disposition as well as the weight of the fetus;
- giving birth – the stress of childbirth can cause weakening in the muscles responsible for bladder control;
- old age – bladder muscles weaken with age;
- menopause – the loss of estrogen can have detrimental effects on the lining of the urethra and bladder;
- surgeries on the reproductive system (women) – surgeries such as the hysterectomy can damage muscles and ligaments holding both the bladder and the uterus;
- enlarged prostate – common among older men, enlarged prostate is the swelling of the prostate gland;
- prostate cancer – although incontinence can be a symptom of prostate cancer, it is often the consequence of treating one;
- neurological disorders – neurological illnesses or spinal injuries can disrupt normal nerve communications and cause urinal incontinence.
It isn’t possible to completely prevent urinary incontinence, especially if it is caused by a pre-existing medical condition.
However, you can reduce the risk by leading a healthier life. To name a few tips:
- keep yourself fit;
- exercises, such as the Kegel exercise;
- avoid drinks and food known to cause urinary incontinence;
- change your diet to include more fiber;
- quit smoking.
When to seek medical attention
If at any time of your life you suffer from urinary incontinence, it is advisable to consult with your physician. Urinary incontinence could be a symptom of a more serious, underlying medical condition. Furthermore, it can cause major problems in your private life and should be dealt with as soon as possible.
However, there are certain cases of complications that can follow urinary incontinence, so if you recognize any of the following signs, please seek immediate medical care:
- finding it hard to speak or walk;
- feeling weakness or a tingling sensation;
- losing the ability to see;
- being confused;
- loss of consciousness;
- losing control of bowel movements.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.