Urinary Incontinence

Are you affected by urinary incontinence?

Have you ever felt like you just can’t hold it in? You’re not alone. You may be experiencing urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is very common and affects many people ranging from kids to adults. At its most simple definition, when the muscles in your body can’t hold in the urine, that’s urinary incontinence. More to the point, urinary incontinence is any time your body involuntarily leaks urine. Urinary incontinence is commonly referred to as leakage, leaking urine, wetting yourself, peeing your pants and other phrases. Urinary incontinence is also commonly misspelled as Urinary Incontinance.

Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing, but the more you know about it, the better prepared you are to deal with incontinence issues.

Different kinds of urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is not limited to only one type, and they each are little different in how they are caused and how they affect your body.

Stress Incontinence

Stress Incontinence occurs when the muscles in your pelvic floor cannot hold tight against the stresses your body creates when certain events occur, like sneezing, vomiting, coughing, laughing, stretching, etc. Stress incontinence is usually just a small leakage of urine. It doesn’t mean your pelvic floor just opens up and dumps out the urine. Usually, your pelvic floor muscles are strong enough to prevent incontinence under normal conditions. Stress incontinence affects men and women, children and adults. Stress incontinence can be created by certain life events, such as pregnancy. The additional pressure created on your abdominal muscles can create more stress than your pelvic floor can withstand when accompanied by a good sneeze… or childbirth. Women may also suffer stress incontinence during the week before their menstrual cycle. It has more to do with low estrogen levels, which, in turn, can weaken muscle strength around the urethra. Many more women suffer from stress incontinence once they’ve gone through menopause. This stress incontinence is also due to the weakened muscles around the urethra due to low estrogen levels.

The good news is stress incontinence is treatable. One of the most common ways to treat stress incontinence is to practice muscle exercises known as Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are named after a Dr. Arnold Kegel. The Kegel exercise is designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises are usually the first attempt at treating urinary incontinence. The idea is if you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles more than normal, then you should have a better chance of withstanding stress incontinence. Many women practice Kegel exercises in preparation for childbirth, so their body can better withstand the additional pressure on the pelvic floor. Weight loss has also proven effective in dealing with stress incontinence.

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Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence is an uncontrollable and unpredictable urge to urinate, which can cause urine leakage that can happen at any time and does not seem to be linked to any particular event. Urge incontinence is when your bladder muscles contract unexpectedly and erratically. It’s called urge incontinence, because you may feel the urge to pee just as it happens. This type of incontinence is also described as overactive bladder, spastic bladder or unstable bladder. Urge incontinence can happen regardless of the amount of urine in your bladder. It has been known to occur when someone sees, hears or tastes water. Like when you hear a raging river and simultaneously feel the need to pee. In other words, it can almost be a subconscious urge to urinate. But really, there are no defined triggers or urge incontinence.

Urge incontinence can come about as a result of nerve damage or muscle damage, either directly to the bladder or to the nervous system. This type of urinary incontinence can also be caused by neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinsons. A stroke can also cause nerve damage leading to urge incontinence. In men, urge incontinence can be caused by an enlarged prostate. The problem with urge incontinence is, in most cases, there’s no way to determine the cause.

Unfortunately, treatments for urge incontinence may not be as simple as kegel exercises. This might be due to the difficulty in determining what caused the urge incontinence in the first place. If you suffer from urge incontinence then you would most likely need go through a series of tests in an attempt to locate the cause of the urinary incontinence. The first test would probably be a simple urinalysis to try to rule out a common urinary tract infections. If it’s not a bladder infection, A cystoscopy can help doctors look inside your bladder for any abnormalities. A pelvic or abdominal ultrasound may also be used. There are many other tests as well that can help determine the severity of the urge incontinence.

Treatment for urge incontinence typically falls into 3 areas: Medicine, Exercise and Surgery. If you have a bladder infection, antibiotics can clear that up, and perhaps in turn stop the urge incontinence. If you have an overactive or spastic bladder, you might take some antispasmodic medication. If it seems you’re having trouble holding in the urine, the doctor may recommend you focus on pelvic muscle retraining, such as the Kegel exercises. You also may use electrical stimulation and biofeedback to help you retrain those muscles. The biofeedback can help make sure you are targeting the correct muscles. As a last resort, surgery can be used to enlarge your bladder. This would give you more storage for your urine. This is of limited help, as urge incontinence doesn’t seem to be affected by the amount of urine in your bladder.

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Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence is anytime you can lose the ability to hold it in, because of a physical or mental obstacle. In other words, if something keeps you from making it to the bathroom, that would be considered functional incontinence. The term is a little broad and, at times, doesn’t seem like a true form of incontinence. If a linebacker stands in your way as you try to reach the bathroom, that would qualify as functional incontinence. In most cases, however, you may have a physical disability or limited mobility which makes it difficult to reach a bathroom in time to keep from leaking urine or wetting your pants. In some cases, there may be a mental block that prevents the person from figuring out how to reach the bathroom in time. For example, someone with senile dementia or Alzheimer’s may not be able to think clearly enough to plan the trip to the bathroom in time. Older men and women are the most common sufferers of functional incontinence.

Treatment of functional incontinence depends on the obstacles. If there’s a physical obstacle, such as a wheelchair, then a wider door frame, an assistance bar, or a ramp may help overcome the functional incontinence. If there’s a mental obstacle, such as Alzheimer’s, then cue cards may help avoid the functional incontinence.

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Overflow Incontinence

You know when you fill a bowl with water and then you try to add a little more? That’s the basic gist of overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence is when your bladder is full, perhaps when you’ve held the urine in too long… and you leak some urine. Basically, your bladder never empties, so as more urine is added, it just sort of overflows, and you experience urine leakage. With overflow incontinence, you feel the urge to urinate, but you may not be able to pee, or at least you can’t seem to fully empty your bladder. When you are experiencing overflow incontinence, it may feel like the urine is just dribbling out. Some other typical symptoms of overflow incontinence are frequent urination at night, difficulty starting urination, a weak stream of urine, and start and stop urination.

There are a few reasons for behind incontinence. Anything that can block the urethra can be a cause of overflow incontinence. Kidney stones are a very common cause. Another cause of overflow incontinence would be tumors that block or compress the urethra. An enlarged prostate can also put pressure on the urethra, also causing overflow incontinence. Aside from urethra blockage, there are other reasons for overflow incontinence. Nerve damage, known as Neurogenic Bladder, can cause loss of sensation, so you can’t perceive when your bladder is full. If you can’t feel that your bladder is full, it’s likely you’ll suffer from overflow incontinence. The nerve damage (or nerve blockage) can be caused by due to an accident, surgery, or even disease.

Depending on the cause of your overflow incontinence, the treatment will vary. If you have a urethra blockage, you will obviously try to have the blockage removed. Removing kidney stones is very common and many times does not require any surgery unless the stones are too large to pass through the urethra. Even then, ultrasonic waves are usually used to break up the stones, so they can be passed. Tumors are usually excised through surgery. An enlarged prostate is first treated with medicine, such as Alpha Blockers like Cardura, Flomax, Hytrin and Uroxatral. Ruductase Inhibitors, such Avodart and Proscar have also proven effective in reducing an enlarged prostate. Past that there are laser and microwave therapies to reduce an enlarged prostate, and finally, there’s surgery. If your overflow incontinence has been caused by nerve damage, there are some medications that can be taken to help treat the urinary incontinence. Ditropan, for example, helps your bladder to relax and empty properly. If medicine isn’t your thing, you can always use a catheter. A catheter gives you a sure-fire way to empty your bladder when you suffer from overflow incontinence.

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Bedwetting

Bedwetting officially qualifies as a type of incontinence, because you urinate in your sleep. Bedwetting is very common in children that have recently been potty trained. They may recognize the urge to pee and respond while awake, yet while asleep, their bodies are not yet trained to recognize the need to pee. Children usually grow out of bedwetting within a couple years of potty training. Bedwetting can actually be considered a form of functional incontinence, since it may be hard for the small child to get the bathroom in the middle of sleeping. It could also be a considered a mental obstacle, since the child’s body can’t yet wake up when the child need to urinate, and their body can’t hold in the urine until the morning.

Many people have their children wear pull ups while sleeping to avoid changing the sheets every day. Pull ups that turn cool with urine can help a child learn to recognize when they need to wake up and use the bathroom. Some people let their children sleep without a diaper or pull up, so the child will feel the wet bed. We don’t recommend this method until the child is physically able to get himself or herself out the bed and use the toilet. Regardless of the method you choose, avoid shaming the child for bedwetting. This can actually prolong the bedwetting, and cause emotional issues for your child. Just remember to treat your child with love when dealing with bedwetting issues.

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