Urinary Incontinence – Causes – Treatment and Prevention

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a loss of bladder control. This condition can be permanent or temporary depending upon various factors. It results in the complete emptying of the bladder, and sometimes only a minor leakage occurs.

In any case, urinary incontinence is quite embarrassing. This condition is very common among older age women, however, everyone may experience it at any stage of their lives. As you get older, the bladder muscles tend to weaken. This weakness leads to urinary incontinence.

It can be a sign of kidney stones, cancer, or some other serious disease. Consult your doctor if you have urine incontinence to avoid major medical complications.

What are the types of urinary incontinence?

There are the following main types of urinary incontinence. You may experience more than one at a time.

Stress incontinence

Following physical activities may trigger the stress incontinence like:

  • Weight lifting
  • Exercising
  • Laughing
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

All these activities can put pressure on the sphincters muscles of the bladder. These muscles control the urine. The stress or pressure may trigger incontinence. Hormonal changes and the weight of the fetus during pregnancy may also lead to stress incontinence. 

Overflow incontinence

Overflow or dribbling incontinence occurs when you do not empty your bladder. Later it dribbles or leaks from the bladder.

Urge incontinence

When your bladder is full – you urge to urinate. You may experience urge incontinence when your bladder is full. It will lead to loss of bladder control. This may be due to some minor causes like infection or some severe problem like diabetes.

Functional incontinence

This can be due to some physical or mental impairment or disability. For example, a person with a mental disability will not be able to make his way to the bathroom, or an individual with arthritis will not be able to quickly take off his pants to urinate. 

Causes of urinary incontinence

The following can be the potential causes of urinary incontinence:

Aging – age is the main factor causing urinary incontinence. As you get older, your bladder muscles tend to weaken. It leads to incontinence. To avoid this, you must adopt a healthy lifestyle, eating habits, and exercise. 

Weak bladder muscles – weak bladder muscles may also result from stress. When certain factors put pressure on your muscles: it weakens them. It results in urinary incontinence.

Damage to pelvic muscles – sometimes surgeries, pregnancy, or childbirth damage the pelvic floor muscles and weaken them. These muscles support the bladder and control the urge to urinate. The weakening of pelvic muscles results in urinary incontinence. 

Inflamed prostate – prostate glands are found in males. These glands nourish the sperm. Prostate glands become enlarged or inflamed with age, resulting in urine incontinence.

Cancer – sometimes benign tumors result in urinary incontinence by blocking the urinary path. Prostate and bladder cancer may also lead to this condition.

Menopause – women produce less amount of estrogen after menopause. This hormone is essential to strengthening the tissues of the bladder and urethra. Less production of estrogen can cause incontinence by weakening the tissues. 

Constipation – rectum, and bladder are close together. Pressure on the rectum may increase the urge to urinate. It sometimes also cause the weakening of bladder muscles. 

Other potential causes include:

Urinary tract infection

Kidney stones

Bladder stones

Side effects of certain medications

Drinking too much caffeinated or alcoholic beverages

When to see a doctor?

If you have symptoms of urinary incontinence, you must see your doctor. It can be a cause of a serious medical illness. Even if it is not critical, it can disturb your routine life. You must consult your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Irritability in legs or any part of the body
  • Trouble walking, speaking, seeing, or sleeping
  • Unconsciousness
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Limited social interaction
  • Indication of some serious underlying cause

Treatment of urinary incontinence

Your doctor will diagnose the underlying cause of urinary incontinence. Depending upon the cause: you may be required to undergo surgery. However, in most cases, your doctor will ask you to perform a few exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles.

You may require to get certain medications to control your bladder. In some cases, your health care provider may advise you to adopt the following habits:

  • Adjusting your eating and drinking habits
  • Follow a scheduled bathroom routine
  • Cutting back alcoholic, caffeinated, or acidic beverages
  • Wearing absorbent undergarments
  • Using catheters (soft tube or catheter to empty the bladder by inserting it) and pads
  • Losing weight and limiting the fluid intake may also give you benefit from incontinence

Prevention

You cannot control all the factors causing urinary incontinence. However, you may adopt a few practices to lessen its chances:

  • Exercise regularly to strengthen your pelvic muscles
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking
  • Limit the use of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages
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