Urinary Leakage- Care and Management
Are you one of the millions of people all over the world suffering from bladder problems? Do you leak urine at the slightest movement like coughing or laughing or lifting something? Can you consciously control your bladder functions without leaking or dribbling urine? Have you experienced a sudden urgency to void that you cannot control and wet your clothes before getting to a toilet? Have you leaked urine without being aware of it? If the answer to all the questions is yes, then you may have urinary incontinence.
For decades man has suffered different types of problems of the urinary system and countless studies were dedicated to learning about this problem yet nothing has changed in the way our body system works and how it gets dysfunctional as we age. Studies have shown that failure of the urinary system is because of our own negligence and our preference for things that are detrimental to our health like poor bladder habits, insufficient water intake, alcoholic drinks, and processed, spicy foods, among others.
What causes urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is another name for urinary leakage or the involuntary loss of urine at some times during the day or night. There are several factors known to cause this condition such as:
- Weak pelvic floor muscles usually as a consequence of large weight pregnancy, assisted childbirth, obesity and prolonged straining when performing extreme exercises, has chronic constipation or diarrhea (stress incontinence)
- Overactive bladder causes sudden urge to urinate and uncontrollable frequent urination at the slightest stimulus. This condition is caused by the bladder sending the wrong signals to the brain that it is filling up and needs to void frequently and urgently (urge incontinence) often before reaching the toilet
- Leakage may also caused by an overflow of urine (overflow incontinence). The bladder fills up to over capacity and certain blockage on the urinary tracts or the urethral sphincter (kidney stones, polyps or enlarged prostate glands) prevents the normal process of voiding. This type of urinary incontinence often affects the elderly and men in particular
- In some patients, incontinence is not due to problems of the urinary system. In most cases, the system is functional but leakage occurs because of the absence of neurological impulses due to spinal cord injuries or paralysis. People with dementia secondary to depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke do not recognize the urge to relieve themselves. The message carried by neurotransmitters from the bladder to the brain is lost somewhere along the way and the bladder fills and proceeds to void without the person knowing it.
The upside of this condition is it is treatable and at worse, manageable. Your physician can recommend many treatment regimens depending on the cause of your incontinence. It is important to seek medical opinion and treatment at the onset of the problem to have a better chance at recovery. Some of the treatments include:
- Behavioural modification and lifestyle change is the basic intervention. Relearning good toilet habits (voiding at regular intervals, voiding completely and proper hygiene) help in regaining the patterns of micturation
- Diet management and good nutrition with emphasis on fibre-rich food intake and minimising processed foods, diuretic fruits and beverages and alcoholic drinks
- Exercise routine with focus on weight loss if heavyweight and learning the Kegel exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and achieve muscle tone
- Medication of the underlying causes often helps minimize the symptoms. Prescription drugs like anti-cholinergics and anti-depressants help to relax the bladder. Low-dose topical oestrogen applied around the urethra and the vaginal areas to help rejuvenate and tone muscles and improve contraction
- Use of intra-uterine devices and disposable urethral inserts help in improving muscle tone and strength of the pelvic floor muscles
- Augmenting urethral bulk by Botox injections or other bulking agents to improve sphincter closure
- Surgery may be required as a last recourse if all non-surgical options fail.
Whatever your option is, your doctor is the best person to give you the professional health care that you need. Compliance to the agreed treatment regimen is the key to the effective treatment of urinary leakage.
Filed under: Urinary Incontinence