Urinary incontinence occurs when you lose control of your bladder. It is a common and often embarrassing condition that affects millions of Americans. Data from the American Urological Association shows that the condition affects more than one-quarter to one-third of men and women in the US. The association believes this is a conservative figure because many people do not share their symptoms, opting to suffer in silence instead. Fortunately, there are several treatment options to manage and stop urinary incontinence, including Emsella offered at Pure Wellness Therapy in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence
Symptoms vary from one person to another depending on the type of incontinence one is suffering from. Some people experience frequent small to moderate leaks of urine while others experience occasional leaks. Urinary incontinence affects more women than men. Data shows that it affects around 30% of women aged between 30 and 60 compared to around 5% of men.
Besides the health implications, the condition can also affect you emotionally and psychologically. It can also affect your social life, preventing you from engaging in activities you like.
Types of Incontinence
Stress incontinence occurs when you put some pressure on your bladder. It is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles which allow urine to leak during a physical activity that puts pressure on the bladder. Such activities include exercising, bending, walking, lifting, or even sneezing and coughing.
Stress incontinence can be mild, moderate, or severe. The amount of urine that leaks can vary from a few droplets to a tablespoon or more. This type of incontinence is more common in older women.
Also known as urge incontinence, overactive bladder (OAB) is a common condition that affects 30% of men and 40% of women in the United States. People suffering from OAB experience a sudden, intense urge to urinate throughout the day. Since individuals with OAB have to make many trips to the toilet even at night, they find it difficult to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
With OAB, your brain tricks your bladder into releasing urine even when it is not full. In other instances, the bladder is too active and contracts even when it is not full, giving you an intense urge to urinate.
Overflow incontinence occurs when the body produces more urine than the bladder can hold. Sometimes it is caused by a blockage in the bladder that interferes with the flow of urine, causing it to leak. In some cases, overflow incontinence occurs because the bladder’s muscles fail to contract as they should, leading to a leak.
Overflow incontinence has two symptoms; frequent urination involving small amounts of urine and constant dribbling. This type of incontinence is more prevalent in men with prostate problems or men who have had prostate surgery.
This a unique form of incontinence that affects people who may not have a bladder problem. Functional incontinence occurs when a mental or physical impairment prevents you from reaching the toilet when you need to. For example, people with arthritis may fumble with their pants when in the toilet.
People with mixed incontinence suffer from multiple types of urinary incontinence.
According to health professionals, urinary incontinence is a symptom rather than a disease. They believe it is an indication of an underlying medical condition, poor lifestyle choices, or a problematic physical condition. Therefore, to determine the cause of your incontinence, you should visit a doctor for a thorough evaluation. Here are some causes of urinary incontinence:
Some foods, drinks, and medications can cause temporary incontinence by stimulating the bladder and increasing the production of urine. They include:
- Foods with a lot of spices, sugar or spices
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chilli pepper
- Sparkling water and carbonated drinks
- Muscle relaxants
- Heart and blood pressure medications
- High doses of calcium
Sometimes temporary incontinence is caused by easily treatable medical conditions.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Since a UTI causes irritation in your bladder, it gives you an intense urge to urinate, and can also cause incontinence.
Since the rectum is close to the bladder, they share many similar nerves. Therefore, when constipation makes these nerves to be overactive, it triggers the urge to urinate frequently.
Persistent incontinence is caused by a continuous condition. Such conditions include:
The weight of the fetus and hormonal changes can cause stress incontinence. It is also important to note that women who experience stress incontinence during pregnancy are likely to experience the same even after giving birth.
Giving birth is a complex process that involves many body parts. Vaginal birth sometimes weakens bladder muscles and damages bladder nerves and supportive tissue, causing a prolapse. When a prolapse occurs, the bladder, the rectum, the uterus, or the small intestines can be pushed out of place, ending up protruding from the vagina. This can cause incontinence among other complications.
As we age, our body parts do not function as well as they used to. Aging reduces the amount of urine the bladder can store and sometimes causes involuntary bladder contractions.
Estrogen, the female sex hormone, plays a key role in maintaining the health of the lining of the bladder and urethra. When women reach menopause, they produce less estrogen. This affects the health of the bladder and urethra, increasing their risk of developing incontinence.
A majority of the muscles and ligaments that support the uterus also support the bladder. Therefore, any surgical procedure that involves removing the uterus can interfere with the supporting pelvic floor muscles. Damaged pelvic floor muscles can cause incontinence.
Also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in medical spheres, an enlarged prostate is a common problem among older men. It blocks the flow of urine from the bladder, causing bladder, urinary tract, and kidney problems.
Urge incontinence and stress incontinence in men are potential signs of untreated prostate cancer. However, most times, incontinence in men is a side effect of medications used to treat prostate cancer.
A tumor in the urethra can interfere with normal urinary flow, causing overflow incontinence. Also known as urinary calculi, urinary stones are painful masses that form in the urinary tract, causing infection, bleeding, or blockage.
Since the brain controls the bladder through signals, conditions that negatively affect the brain might affect the functionality of the bladder. Neurological disorders that might affect the functionality of the bladder include Parkinson’s disease, a brain tumor, a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or a spinal injury.
Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and the general female anatomy make women more susceptible to stress incontinence. On the other hand, prostate glands problems make men more vulnerable to urge and overflow incontinence.
As we age, our bladder and urethra muscles weaken. Aging reduces the holding capacity of the bladder. Additionally, older people are more likely to experience an involuntary urine release.
Overweight or obese people are likely to experience stress incontinence by just coughing or sneezing because excess weight puts pressure on their bladder and surrounding muscles. This pressure weakens the bladder muscles, allowing urine to leak.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills half of its users, killing 8 million people annually. Besides killing its users, tobacco causes many health complications, including bladder problems.
People who have a close family member that suffers from urge incontinence are more susceptible to developing the condition. Therefore, if you have a history of bladder problems in your family, you should consider regular check-ups as a proactive measure.
Incontinence may cause constant urinary tract infections
People suffering from incontinence are likely to develop sores, rashes, and skin infections because their skin is constantly wet.
Affects Other Aspects of Life
Incontinence affects a lot more than your health. It can interfere with your work, social and personal relationships.
While not all forms of incontinence are preventable, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. Such measures include:
- Making good lifestyle choices, including regular exercise and a healthy diet
- Performing regular pelvic floor exercises (Kegels)
- Avoiding drinks and foods that irritate your bladder, such as alcohol, caffeine, and acidic food
- Eating foods with high fiber content to prevent constipation
- Avoiding smoking
To determine the type of incontinence you have, the doctor will review your symptoms. The doctor will also review your medical history and carry out a thorough physical exam. To check for stress incontinence, the doctor may ask you to cough. The doctor will also recommend the following tests:
In this test, a sample of your urine is taken and analyzed for traces of blood, signs of infection, and other anomalies.
This type of diagnosis requires you to record the amount of fluid you drink, when you urinate, the volume you urinate, whether you felt the urge to urinate, and the times you experienced incontinence. You collect and record this information for several days.
Post-Void Residual Measurement
For this test, you urinate into a container. Then the doctor checks your bladder for leftover urine using an ultrasound test or catheter. A sizeable amount of leftover urine is a potential sign of an obstruction in your urinary tract. It could also be a sign of weak bladder muscles or damaged bladder nerves.
If you are considering surgery, further tests might be carried out. These include a pelvic ultrasound and urodynamic testing.
Treatment options depend on the severity and the type of incontinence you are suffering from. Sometimes, the condition is treated with a combination of treatment options. If the incontinence is caused by an underlying condition, the condition must be addressed first.
When starting off, this technique requires you to delay urination for 10 minutes whenever you feel the urge to go. The aim of this technique is to increase the time between trips to the toilet. If successful, toilet visits should be 2.5 to 3.5 hours apart.
This technique requires you to urinate twice in a few minutes. This is especially helpful if you are suffering from overflow incontinence.
Scheduled Toilet Trips
Instead of going to the toilet whenever you get the urge to go, you schedule toilet visits every 2 to 4 hours.
To avoid triggering incontinence, you should reduce your alcohol, caffeine, and acidic food intake. You should also adopt a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and quit smoking.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
Also known as Kegels, pelvic floor muscles exercises help you manage stress incontinence. To perform Kegels, stop urinating midway and hold for 5 seconds, then let go for another 5 seconds. Aim to hold the contractions for 10 seconds. You should also work towards making 3 sets of 10 repetitions daily.
Electrical and Electromagnetic Stimulation
This involves inserting electrodes into your vagina or rectum temporarily to strengthen and stimulate pelvic floor muscles. Multiple treatment sessions of gentle electrical stimulation have proven effective against stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Also known as the Kegel Throne, Emsella by BTL is an advanced noninvasive technology that uses High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM) power to safely and effectively strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The Emsella BTL device delivers HIFEM waves to the pelvic floor muscles, stimulating the tissue on a cellular level.
This triggers the pelvic floor muscles to perform thousands of tissue tightening contractions. These contractions strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, giving you better control of your bladder.
These medications are used to manage an overactive bladder. They can also calm urge incontinence.
This medication helps to manage urge incontinence. It works by increasing the bladder’s capacity and by relaxing the bladder muscles. It can also help you empty your bladder completely by increasing the amount of urine you pass at a go. This offers you relief from one of the symptoms of urge incontinence.
These medications enable men with overflow or urge incontinence to empty their bladder. They achieve this by relaxing the muscle fibers in the prostate and the bladder neck muscles.
To rejuvenate and tone tissues in the vagina and urethra, women can apply topical estrogen in low doses. Topical estrogen is delivered through a vaginal cream, ring, or patch.
Designed to help women struggling with prolapse-induced incontinence, a pessary is a stiff ring that is inserted in the vagina and worn all day. It prevents leakage by holding the bladder in place.
This is a disposable device that looks like a tampon. It is inserted in the urethra before physical activity to prevent urine from leaking.
- Botox injections
- Bulking material injections
- Nerve stimulators
Surgery is often the last resort after other treatment options fail. Surgical procedures to treat incontinence include:
- Bladder neck suspension
- Sling procedures
- Artificial urinary sphincter
- Prolapse surgery
We Can Help
Besides negatively affecting your health, incontinence can also affect your social life, preventing you from living a fully enjoyable life. Although incontinence is very common, it is not an unavoidable or untreatable condition. Medical research and technological advancement have enabled healthcare professionals to manage and treat incontinence. Do not suffer alone and in silence. To get help with urinary incontinence, contact Pure Wellness Therapy in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida!