What can be done about incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is a common medical issue impacting millions of people in the United States and around the world every year. It is also an issue that is difficult to discuss, even with a doctor, due to the embarrassment some sufferers feel.
Unfortunately, because of that (understandable) embarrassment, people who are suffering from incontinence or one of a variety of other issues in regards to urination and the bladder, are not getting the help they need. Some, in fact, react so drastically that they essentially remove themselves from public life, which is detrimental to both the body and the brain.
Incontinence and related issues aren’t the easiest to talk about, but rest assured they are very common, especially amongst older people. The cures and treatments for these issues are oftentimes both simple and painless.
Urinary incontinence is involuntary urination, whether that means a small leak or a larger one. Some people refer to these as bladder leaks since urine is made in the kidneys but stored in the bladder until it is time to urinate. It’s the bladder’s job to regulate urination, making it as infrequent as possible and also as voluntary as possible. Sometimes, an illness or disorder that disrupts that very mechanism could be the culprit behind incontinence. In other cases, neurological conditions could be at fault. In other instances, age and overuse can contribute to this issue.
Statistically, more women deal with urinary incontinence and leaks than men do, with some estimates suggesting that twice as many women deal with the issue than men. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause — i.e. situations that only women experience — largely contribute to incontinence and leaks.
Frequent urination, also referred to as overactive bladder, is a separate issue that is not necessarily related to issues like incontinence. The urge to frequently urinate could be due to a whole host of medical conditions, including (but not limited to) diabetes, cancer, or infections in the prostate, urinary tract, bladder, or kidneys.
People who experience the need to frequently urinate often report that the issue affects daily life in serious and frustrating ways. Frequent urination often disrupts sleep, which is itself a contributor to various health issues.
The kind of treatment you pursue will depend on what kind of bladder and urinary issues you are having.
Treatment for urinary incontinence issues can involve medication, but it can just as often involve physical therapy and exercises to strengthen a weakened muscle group. The most important thing is to figure out why you’re having the issue in the first place. These reasons vary, and include stress incontinence (when leakage is the result of stress being put on the bladder by laughing, exercising, coughing, or sneezing), overflow incontinence (leakage caused by the bladder not emptying fully or properly), and functional incontinence (literally having some kind of impairment, physical or mental, that prevents you from getting to the bathroom on time), or other issues. Mixed incontinence is also a possibility. This occurs when you live with more than one factor causing your issues. For instance, a mix of stress incontinence and overflow incontinence could occur.
Incontinence, generally, is a symptom, not a disease in and of itself. While medication is often used to treat conditions that cause issues like incontinence and leakage, it merits mention that certain exercises or physical therapies can be as successful. If, for instance, your issues stem from the area near the bladder being weakened by pregnancy, childbirth, and age, Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help immeasurably.
Lifestyle and diet changes can also remedy the situation. Smoking and other tobacco use contributes to incontinence, as does overindulging in alcohol and caffeine. Being overweight is also a contributing factor to a variety of conditions that cause leakage issues.
Treatment for frequent urination is usually related to what the underlying cause of the problem is. If it’s an infection, antibiotics will likely clear everything up, but if it’s something more serious and complicated like diabetes, cancer, or a neurological issue, your treatment options will likely be much more complex than taking pills for a few days.
Some popular causes for frequent urination for women include the following conditions:
— urinary tract infection
— bladder infection
— sexually transmitted infection
— interstitial cystitis
— prolapsed/dropped bladder
— overconsumption of diuretics
— neurological disease
Though there are some serious illnesses on this list, it is important not to panic. See your doctor and openly discuss your condition.
Popular causes for men’s frequent urination include the same conditions as listed above with the exception of pregnancy and with the addition of an infection or abnormality in the prostate. A common problem for many aging men is an enlarged prostate, sometimes referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (or BPH for short).
If you are suffering from incontinence, frequent urination, or one of the many issues related to those functions and that part of the body, it is imperative that you tell your doctor. It is possible a minor problem is persisting due to your inactivity, and that a simple course of treatment will alleviate the problem. It is also possible that the issues you’re dealing with are related to a larger, more significant health issue, in which case it is advisable to get things looked at if you need to start a course of more serious treatment.