Urinary incontinence: Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Treatment And Preventions
Urinary incontinence — the loss of bladder control — is a common and often embarrassing problem. The severity of urinary incontinence ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that’s so sudden and strong you don’t get to a toilet in time.
If urinary incontinence affects your day-to-day activities, don’t hesitate to see your doctor. In most cases, simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can ease your discomfort or stop urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine from your bladder. Some people experience occasional, minor leaks — or dribbles — of urine. Others wet their clothes frequently.
Certain foods, drinks and medications can cause temporary urinary incontinence. A simple change in habits can bring relief.
Alcohol. Alcohol acts as a bladder stimulant and a diuretic, which can cause an urgent need to urinate.
Overhydration. Drinking a lot of fluids, especially in a short period of time, increases the amount of urine your bladder has to deal with.
Caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic and a bladder stimulant that can cause a sudden need to urinate.
Bladder irritation. Carbonated drinks, tea and coffee — with or without caffeine — artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, and foods and beverages that are high in spice, sugar and acid, such as citrus and tomatoes, can aggravate your bladder.
Medications. Heart medications, blood pressure drugs, sedatives, muscle relaxants and other medications may contribute to bladder control problems.
Urinary tract infection
Pregnancy and childbirth
Changes with aging
Complications of chronic urinary incontinence include:
Skin problems. Urinary incontinence can lead to rashes, skin infections and sores (skin ulcers) from constantly wet skin.
Urinary tract infections. Incontinence increases your risk of repeated urinary tract infections.
Changes in your activities. Urinary incontinence may keep you from participating in normal activities. You may stop exercising, quit attending social gatherings or even stop venturing away from familiar areas where you know the locations of toilets.
Changes in your work life. Urinary incontinence may negatively affect your work life. Your urge to urinate may cause you to have to get up often during meetings. The problem may disrupt your concentration at work or keep you awake at night, causing fatigue.
Changes in your personal life. Perhaps most distressing is the impact incontinence can have on your personal life. Your family may not understand your behavior or may grow frustrated at your many trips to the toilet. You may avoid s*xual intimacy because of embarrassment caused by urine leakage. It’s not uncommon to experience anxiety and depression along with incontinence.
Treatment for urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence, the severity of your problem and the underlying cause. Your doctor will recommend the approaches best suited to your condition. A combination of treatments may be needed.
In most cases, your doctor will suggest the least invasive treatments first, so you’ll try behavioral techniques and physical therapy first and move on to other options only if these techniques fail.
Urinary incontinence is not always preventable. However, you may be able to decrease your risk of incontinence with these steps:
Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, reaching a healthy weight may help.
Don’t smoke. Get help with quitting if you do smoke.
Practice Kegel exercises. Doctors often advise pregnant women to do Kegel exercises during pregnancy as a preventive measure.
Avoid bladder irritants. Avoiding or limiting certain foods and drinks may help prevent or limit urinary incontinence. For example, if you know that drinking more than two cups of coffee makes you have to urinate uncontrollably, cutting back to one cup of coffee or forgoing caffeine-containing drinks may be all that you need to do.
Eat more fiber. Including more fiber in your diet or taking fiber supplements can help prevent constipation, a risk factor for urinary incontinence.
Exercise. Physical activity reduces your risk of developing incontinence