Urinary Incontinence Archives

Women who are suffering from urinary incontinence may find themselves in a quandary over the prospect of changing lifestyle and behavioural patterns in order to cope with the changes in their bodies.  This is not a comfortable issue to deal with, as often the negative emotions cause unpleasant reactions. Therefore, it is very important to understand what urinary incontinence in women means and how it affects their daily lives.

What causes urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is a symptom of an underlying medical condition manifested by loss of control over the bladder functions. This type of incontinence is common in women who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth. During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles cradling the bladder and the uterus may weaken due to the prolonged stress of carrying the baby’s weight.

Physical trauma to the pelvic tissues during assisted deliveries can cause scarring and loss of elasticity that may worsen over time if not treated. The passages of small amounts of urine that escape when coughing, sneezing or lifting indicate stress incontinence. High impact activities such as weightlifting or competitive sports further aggravate the weakness of the pelvic muscles.

Women over forty may experience intermittent urinary incontinence due to the diminished oestrogen hormone levels. This condition is part of the menopausal syndrome in older women and is treatable with hormone replacement. The symptoms may come and go over the years but may worsen as the person reaches fifty to sixty years old.

Urinary tract infections and the presence of tumours or cancer growth in the bladder or uterus may also cause incontinence. Kidney stones and surgical scarring can block the urinary tubes and disrupt the normal flow of urine causing secondary infections that are more serious. Some unhealthy toilet habits such as putting off urination for long periods and habitual incomplete voiding contribute to the problem.

What are the treatments for urinary incontinence?
Almost all types of urinary incontinence are treatable if diagnosed early. A complete medical diagnostic test and laboratory analysis can help the physician in recommending the right treatment. A capable physical therapist can help in locating the right muscles to contract whilst performing the Kegel exercise routine. This set of exercises aims to strengthen the weak pelvic muscles and improve muscle tone.

For an overactive bladder that cause urge incontinence, anti-cholinergic drugs like oxybutynin and solifenacin help in relaxing the detrusor muscles. An anti-depressant like Imipramine calms the erratic contractions of the bladder. It is important to inform the attending physician if the patient is under medication for another kind of ailment because some medicaments may have adverse effects if taken in combination with other drugs.

Use of vaginal inserts like the pessaries may temporarily alleviate the pressure of the enlarged uterus on the bladder. A professional health care provider inserts a doughnut-shaped device into the vaginal cavity that will provide support for the prolapsed uterus. Tampons are inserts made of absorbent material designed to absorb small leakage. This is a convenient device for women who are into sports, replacing the incontinence pads. Vaginal inserts are not advisable for women who are prone to cystitis and cervical infections.

Bulking materials are agents injected into the tissues surrounding the urethra to improve closure of the sphincter and prevent accidental leakage. This non-invasive intervention is a temporary measure that requires repeat injections after a certain period. Success rate of this kind of therapy is high and side effects are minimal.

If the other treatments fail, surgery is another option that may work. Semi-invasive procedures such as the sling and bladder neck suspension are minor surgical interventions that do not require long recuperation period. The surgeon inserts a thin mesh tape around the bladder neck and the urethra to improve closure and provide relief from the pressure of the prolapsed uterus. The tape can be either a synthetic material or the patient’s own body tissue.

Radical surgeries such as bladder augmentation and bladder replacement are the last resort when all else fail. Management of the leakage using incontinence products helps the patient in living comfortably despite the incontinence. The instances of urinary incontinence in women may greatly reduce with balanced diet, exercise, good toilet habits and healthy lifestyle.

Urinary incontinence refers to the involuntary passage of urine at anytime, anywhere. This is a symptom of an underlying medical problem affecting different people from different countries.  In the UK alone, over 5 million suffer from incontinence and more than 60% are men over 40. The actual number may be higher than the statistics because many who have this problem do not seek professional help due to shame, embarrassment and ignorance.

What are the symptoms of urinary incontinence?

Symptoms may vary from person to person but they all have something in common, a leaky bladder. A normal urinary system works at disposing of the body’s liquid waste product through the urine, which the kidneys produce and stored in the bladder. A healthy bladder can hold urine for more than 4 hours and can delay urination until it is convenient for the person to urinate.

When a person becomes incontinent, small leaks or dribbles escape from the bladder at the slightest effort. Coughing, sneezing, laughing or straining can bring about an uncontrollable passage of urine. The sudden force of action opens the urethra and small amounts of urine leaks out. This condition is called stress incontinence and is the most common type of urinary incontinence in men.

The need to void that occurs with acute urgency is a common symptom of urge incontinence. The bladder contracts to expel urine and the pelvic floor muscles fail to tighten to close the urethra and prevent leaking. The “accidental” leakage causes embarrassment and anxiety especially when it happens during an activity or in public.

Overflow incontinence is prevalent in older men who have an enlarged prostate gland. The swollen gland constricts the urethra and blocks the flow of urine. Because of this, the bladder fails to empty completely thus, it is always half-full. The bladder fills quickly and the person needs to urinate more frequently. The retained urine may cause urinary tract infections or may develop into kidney stones or renal calculi.

With functional incontinence, there is nothing wrong with the urinary system. The problem lies with the person’s incapability of recognizing the urge to urinate and failing to perform the process of urination. Persons suffering from depression do not care about personal needs and are even despondent to take care of themselves.

What causes urinary incontinence?

There are many causes of incontinence and a person may have one or more symptoms that may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. By seeking medical help from a professional health care provider such as the GP or urologist, symptoms are noted and confirmed with laboratory tests and physical examinations. All types of urinary incontinence have a common denominator, a weak bladder and or loose pelvic floor muscles.

A man of advance age who has stress incontinence may have loose pelvic floor muscles due to the diminished supply of oestrogen that help tighten the muscles and along with the enlarged prostate gland, continence is lost. Urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is caused by damaged bladder nerves that send signals to the brain that the bladder is filling up and needs to void.

Overflow incontinence is caused by the blockage in the urethral tubes or in the urethra. Calcified minerals and salt that develops into stones may have found its way down the urethral tubes from the kidneys and block the passage of urine. Strictures or narrowing of the urinary tracts due to previous surgical procedures involving the prostate gland can cause a weak stream during urination.

People who are suffering from spinal cord injuries and are bed-ridden or cannot walk without assistance have trouble performing the urination process by themselves. The nerves along the spine are damaged and cannot send signals to the brain failing to notice that the bladder is filled. Deeply depressed persons have conscious recognition of the need to void but are too disconsolate to use the toilet.

Almost all types of urinary incontinence in men are treatable and manageable. Seeking medical attention at the onset of the symptoms can greatly reduce secondary complications and prevent irreversible damage. This is not a rare disorder or a terminal case and early detection may cure the underlying cause and symptoms disappear in time. Life does not stop with incontinence.

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine for several reasons. This is not a disease in itself rather a symptom of an underlying medical problem. In women the pelvic floor muscles become loose and weak after several pregnancies and may cause urine leaks even at the slightest pressure on the bladder. This condition is called stress incontinence.

Other cases involve an overactive bladder that contracts continuously and releases small amounts of urine without enough warning. The sudden urge to urinate (urge incontinence) and the uncontrollable bladder contractions along with weak pelvic floor muscles often affect the men who have benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland). In some cases the bladder fails to empty completely causing retention.

Having urinary incontinence does not need drastic changes in your life. It need not be costly either. Although it may require you to adjust a few lifestyle patterns to make room for some modifications, it doesn’t have to be a radical shift. The urinary incontinence products are made to help you manage your incontinence and make living easier and comfortable. These products are used whilst undergoing treatment.

Absorbent Pads and Pants

The most common product being used are incontinence pads. These highly absorbent pads are especially made to withstand light to heavy flow with shapes designed to fit the contours of the human anatomy and adhesive strips to keep the pad in place.  These pads offer maximum protection against leaks while being discreet. The pads may be disposable or reusable. Choose pads made of natural materials that are hypo-allergenic.

Another product that is widely used are incontinence pants. These are designed like your regular underwear, but with pad inserts or built-in pads with leak-guard protection against accidental leaks. Busy people who can’t be bothered with laundry prefer disposable pants, but for the people who are on a tight budget, they would be advised to go for the washable/reusable kind.

Urine Collectors

Urine collectors and urinals are devices used by patients with heavy incontinence. These are contraptions with belts and straps to hold it in place. These are designed according to the wearer’s anatomy for maximum fit and comfort. Urinals are sheaths for the male shaft fastened with adhesive strips and can be worn under regular briefs or incontinence pants with a pouch.

Vaginal Inserts

Vaginal inserts are devices inserted inside the vaginal cavity to support the prolapsed uterus or the bladder neck. These are called pessaries, made of silicone material shaped like a doughnut. This device is not advisable for women who are prone to urinary tract infections and vaginal infections. Tampons are absorbent plugs used by women who are still active and are sports buff. It is discreet and convenient but not advisable for women who are susceptible to cystitis and other vaginal infections.

Bed Linings, Bed Pads and Mattress Protection

For overflow protection during sleep, bed liners that are highly absorbent are essentials for dry nights. These are made of natural fibres like cotton with different thread counts designed to absorb any kind of leakage during sleep and protect the mattress from water marks and urine stains. These are available in disposable and reusable kind through off-the-shelf or online purchase.

Self-care Products

Care givers and patients alike need to observe proper hygiene to prevent secondary infections. Hand sanitisers, sterile gloves, hypo-allergenic wipes and other self-care products can also be found online.

Whatever your doctor had prescribed, it is important to discuss the options and find the best solution to your urinary incontinence. The use of urinary incontinence products must conform to your needs and affordability should be considered without compromising product quality.  Discretion is the costumer’s right and online ordering respects the costumer’s preference for privacy. Home deliveries offer confidentiality and convenience. You choose what is best for you.

Disclaimer: All material published on the Incontinence.co.uk web site is for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by your doctor or health professional. Readers should always discuss health matters and review the information carefully with their doctor or health care professional. Extended Disclaimer
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