If you suffer from incontinence you will no doubt have many questions regarding, what causes it, can it be cured, and what treatments are available. The first step is to consult your doctor or GP and also to learn everything you can about this condition and to do everything you can to restore your life to normal.
Incontinence is not regarded as a disease, but rather the symptoms of a problem related to lifestyle factors or an underlying medical condition. There are two main types of incontinence: urinary and faecal incontinence. Urinary incontinence is by far the most common and can occur in both men and women.
Urinary incontinence happens when there is a problem with the muscles or nerves of the bladder that helps you hold and release urine. The symptoms include a sudden urge to urinate but you can’t get to a bathroom in time or leaking urine when you sneeze, cough, or laugh.
5 Types of Urinary Incontinence
1. Stress Incontinence, leaking urine when you cough, laugh sneeze, lift a heavy object or do something that puts pressure on the muscles of the bladder is called ‘Stress Incontinence.
2. Overactive Bladder, also known as ‘Urge Incontinence’, you have a strong urge to urinate that comes on suddenly and is accompanied by uncontrolled leakage of urine. People with Urge Incontinence often use the bathroom more than eight times during the day and have to get up more than once during the night. There is also a strong need to go when touching or hearing running water. With a dry form of overactive bladder, the urge occurs even if the bladder is empty.
3. Mixed Incontinence is a combination of Stress and Urge Incontinence and is more common in women.
4. Overflow Incontinence symptoms are more common in men when they are unable to empty their bladder completely and leak urine when the bladder is full.
5. Functional Incontinence is usually due to a medical condition like arthritis that prevents you from reaching the bathroom in time.
Ten Causes of Urinary Incontinence
Some of the more common causes of Urinary Incontinence include;
1. Urinary tract infections irritate the bladder and cause you to feel the urge to urinate frequently, and sometimes causes incontinence.
2. Pregnancy and childbirth – pregnancy causes significant strain and pressure on the muscles of the urinary tract that often results in incontinence, especially during the last term. Giving birth can weaken the muscles, ligaments, and nerves around the birth canal, often causing incontinence after birth.
3. Menopause – Stress Incontinence and Urge Incontinence in women are more common during menopause when there is a drop in oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is responsible for keeping the muscles of the bladder, urethra, and pelvis strong and healthy.
4. Prostate Problems – Urinary Incontinence in men is often due to an enlarged prostate and after prostate surgery.
5. Smoking – although the reason is not clear, smokers are more likely to suffer from incontinence than non-smokers.
6. Alcohol – excess alcohol is one of the major causes of urinary incontinence in both men and women.
7. Obesity – carrying excess weight can put pressure on the bladder, causing urinary incontinence.
8. Medical Conditions – certain medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and diabetes often damage the muscles and nerves of the body, and when this happens to the urinary tract it can result in incontinence. Urinary Incontinence can sometimes be due to a serious medical condition such as cancer. If the urinary or faecal incontinence persists despite a treatment plan, it may be necessary to undergo further investigation.
9. Surgery – during surgery, for example, a hysterectomy, the muscles that support the bladder could be damaged, causing incontinence after surgery.
10. Old Age – It is a myth that you will definitely develop incontinence in old age, however, it is estimated that 32% of the UK’s older generation do have the condition with nursing home residents at an even higher percentage.
Treatment and Management
Some treatment plan options include over-the-counter or prescription medication to calm the nerves and muscles and prevent spasms. Botox has proven to be effective in keeping symptoms under control by calming the bladder. If your symptoms are severe, you may need surgery or a device for women, inserted into the vagina to re-position the urethra that can prevent leaks.
Other options include exercises for bladder training and biofeedback methods. Certain lifestyle changes may also be helpful, like losing weight, cutting down on alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking.
Incontinence does not discriminate, it can affect people of either sex and of all ages, however, it can be effectively managed and there are a wide range of products available which can be purchased at a High Street pharmacy or online so whether you are seeking male incontinence pads, female washable pants or child waterproof briefs, there is definitely a product to suit.