Explanation of Incontinence

IncontinenceThe loss of bladder control can be an be an embarrassing problem that keeps you from enjoying life and the activities that you love. It’s no small problem. It’s estimated that 13 millions Americans suffer from these problems which are called Urinary Incontinence or UI.

UI is often associated with gender, surgery, and physical changes associated with surgery, pregnancy, and menopause. Regardless of the cause, bladder control problems aren’t just a normal part of aging and can be treated. To better understand the symptoms and signs of this condition, it helps to know how the bladder works.

The bladder is where urine is stored. The bladder has a small tube that allows urine to pass from the body – the urethra. Beneath the bladder is a muscle called the pelvic floor muscle. This muscle is usually contracted which helps support the bladder and keeps urine from leaking from the bladder. During urination, the neck of the bladder relaxes and the urethral sp sphincter opens. At the same the the bladder muscle, the Detrusor Muscle, opens and we.

There are five different types of UI:

Stress Incontinence

  • Most common
  • Caused by pressure on the bladder
  • Typically affects women
  • Affects men after the removal of the prostate

Urge Incontinence Causes (Overactive Bladder)

  • Drug Side Effects
  • Nerve Damage
  • Stroke
  • Neurological Diseases (Multipleschlerosis, Parkinson’s)

Urge Incontinence is characterized by a sudden urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full. The urge to go may be so strong that you may not make it in time. Sometimes the cause of Urge Incontinence cannot be explained.

Overflow Incontinence

  • Individuals dribble on leak urine
  • Bladder doesn’t empty completely
  • Prostate problems
  • Nerve damage from diabetes

Overflow Incontinence is far more frequent in men then it is in women. It can be caused by prostate problems, nerve damage, or as side effect of medication.

Mixed Incontinence

  • Presence of more than one of the above conditions
  • Typically a combination of Stress & Urge Incontinence
  • Functional Incontinence
  • Usually affects older adults
  • Common in nursing homes
  • Can be caused by physical disabilities or neurological disabilities like Alzheimers

There is another type of incontinence–Overnight Incontinence. This can happen to individuals taking certain medications or who drink too much alcohol.

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Solutions for Urinary Incontinence

Urinary IncontinenceThe term urinary incontinence refers to a weakness or inability to control the flow of urine from the body. The condition is most common in women. Approximately 10 percent of all women have regular incontinence, and nearly 20 percent of women over age 75 experience daily UI.

Common Causes of Urinary Incontinence

Bladder infection (cystitis) is a common cause of UI. Other causes include weakened pelvic muscles as a result of childbirth, abnormal function of the bladder and/or urinary sphincter muscle; gynecological surgery, such as hysterectomy, obesity, overconsumption of alcohol or caffeinated beverages, enlarged prostate or prostate surgery, damage to the nervous system from disease, injury, or a brain tumor, and finally prolapsed (dropped) bladder, which can occur after menopause.

UI can also be the side effect of certain drugs, the result of disease or injury that either impairs the individual’s ability to recognize that he or she must urinate or makes it difficult to get to the bathroom in time, constipation, an unusually small bladder, or an obstruction in the urinary system. The bladder can also become irritated by concentrated urine, which occurs when a person does not take in enough fluids. UI can be acute, which means it occurs suddenly. In this case, the cause and condition are usually temporary. Chronic UI develops over time and the cause is not reversible.

Reversing UI

In many cases, UI can be reversed by addressing the cause, such as treating a urinary infection, discontinuing drugs that can cause incontinence as a side effect, and limiting consumption of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Drinking enough fluids each day, which means six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water, will prevent urine from becoming too concentrated. Emptying the bladder frequently, rather than waiting for the urge to urinate, can help urge incontinence.

Other types of treatment include bladder training, biofeedback, a skin patch containing oxybutynin, and drugs to relax the bladder. When overflow incontinence is caused by a blockage, surgery to remove the blockage is usually necessary. However, men with enlarged prostates may respond to drugs to reduce prostate size, which can make surgery unnecessary. Surgery to enlarge the bladder may be necessary if an extremely small bladder causes overflow.

In women, stress incontinence can be relieved with estrogen cream or tablets, drugs that tighten the sphincter, and Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The muscles in the perineal area can be strengthened by electrically stimulating the muscles to contract. Collagen injections around the urethra may also be useful. Surgical techniques include placing an inflatable insert into the urethra, raising the bladder neck and urethra, and urinary sphincter implant.

Reflex and functional incontinence may require the insertion of a catheter, which drains urine from the bladder through a tube attached to some type of container. A catheter can be permanent or used at regular intervals. Pads and undergarments are available to give the wearer security and comfort during times of urinary incontinence. They protect your skin and clothing from urine leakage, reduce odor, and are designed to be unnoticeable.

Many men and women do not seek treatment for urinary incontinence because they are embarrassed. If you are experiencing urinary incontinence, see your doctor. Treating the source of the problem could reverse your condition. Talk with your doctor about the types of drugs that can cause UI so you can avoid them, if necessary.

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