Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine that occurs in women. The severity ranges from loss of urine with a sudden cough or sneeze to unable to control the bladder long enough before you can reach the toilet. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause trigger this condition.
Types of Urinary incontinence include:
- Stress incontinence: Urine leaks when there’s pressure on the bladder, like in the case of coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting anything heavy.
- Overflow incontinence: There is a constant dribbling of urine because the bladder doesn’t empty properly.
- Urge incontinence: There is a sudden need to urinate followed by loss of urine. Urination urge is often, mostly in the night. It can be caused by diabetes or an infection.
- Functional incontinence: A physical or mental impairment keeps you from making it to the toilet in time. For example, if you have severe arthritis, you may not be able to unbutton your pants quickly enough.
- Mixed incontinence: It is a mix of more than one type of incontinence.
Causes of Urinary incontinence:
Urinary incontinence can be caused by various reasons, and a visit to a doctor can help you diagnose that. It is a symptom rather than a disease:
- Urinary Tract infection: Infections can irritate the bladder, causing strong urge to urinate and lose bladder control.
- Constipation: The rectum is located near the bladder and shares many of the same nerves. Hard, compacted stool in your rectum causes these nerves to be overactive and increase urinary frequency.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes, increased weight of the baby and pressure on the pelvic floor muscles can cause urine incontinence
- Childbirth: Vaginal delivery can weaken muscles needed for bladder control and also damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue, leading to a prolapsed pelvic floor. With prolapse, the bladder, uterus, rectum or small intestine can get pushed down from the usual position and protrude into the vagina. Such protrusions can be associated with incontinence.
- Menopause: After menopause, there is lesser production of estrogen, the hormone which keep the lining of the urethra and bladder healthy. Deterioration of these can increase incontinence.
- Aging: Aging of the bladder muscle can decrease the bladder’s capacity to store urine.
- Surgery: In women, the bladder and uterus are supported by many of the same muscles and ligaments. Surgery that involves a woman’s reproductive system, including removal of the uterus, may damage the supporting pelvic floor muscles, causing incontinence.
- Neurological disorders: Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, a brain tumor or a spinal injury can interfere with nerve signals involved in bladder control, causing urinary incontinence.
How can you prevent Urine incontinence?
It is not possible to avoid urine incontinence, but steps can be taken to reduce or manage this condition:
- Maintain a healthy weight so that there’s less pressure on your bladder
- Practice pelvic floor exercises like kegel
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and acidic food as they are bladder irritants
- Eat fibrous food to avoid incontinence
- Quit smoking
In case urinary continence is severe and not much is helping, ask your doctor for medications. There are few topical estrogens available in the market. For more severe cases, minor surgeries may be involved.
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