URINARY INCONTINENCE IN WOMEN
What is urinary incontinence?
It is a very common condition and affects women of all ages but there are lifestyle modifications and treatment options available.
Urinary incontinence can happen when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or jog.
There are different types of urinary incontinence and they are categorised by symptoms.
- STRESS INCONTINENCE
If urine leaks out when you jump, cough, or laugh, you may have stress incontinence. Any form of physical exertion that increases abdominal pressure also puts pressure on the bladder. The word “stress” here means physical strain associated with leakage. Often, only a small volume of urine leaks out, however, in amore severe cases, the pressure of a full bladder overcomes the body’s ability to hold in urine. This leakage occurs because the bladder muscles are not contracting and you do not feel the urge to urinate. Stress incontinence occurs when the urethral sphincter, the pelvic floor muscles, or both of these structures have been weakened or damaged and therefore cannot hold in urine.
2. URGE INCONTINENCE
This happens when there is the urge to pee even when the bladder is not full.
This condition involves an overwhelming need to urinate immediately, frequently followed by the leakage of urine before you can reach a bathroom.
3. MIXED INCONTINENCE
This is a combination of both types (Urge and stress incontinence)
4. REFLEX/OVERACTIVE INCONTINENCE
This occurs as a result of the contraction of the bladder muscle and then urine leaks (often in large volumes) without any warning or urge.
This usually happens because of damage to the nerves that normally warn the brain that the bladder is filled up.
Reflex incontinence usually occurs in people with serious neurological impairment from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, other injuries, or damage from surgery or radiation treatment.
5. FUNCTIONAL INCONTINENCE
This is when your urinary tract functions well but other illnesses are keeping you from holding in your urine.
Certain medications, dementia, or mental illness for instance can decrease awareness of the need to find the bathroom.
WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO THE WEAKENING OF THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?
Damage to pelvic floor muscles can be caused by a myriad of reasons including:
•Pregnancy and birth
•Chronic and persistent coughing
•Constipation – this can lead to excessive straining in the toilet
•Lifting heavy weights
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR?
The main symptom is the accidental release of urine.
If you have stress incontinence, you may leak urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, or do similar things often in small volumes.
If you have urge incontinence, you may feel a sudden urge to urinate and the need to urinate often. With this type of bladder control problem, you may leak a larger amount of urine that can soak your clothes or stream down your legs.
If you have mixed incontinence, you may have symptoms of both problems.
Your doctor will ask about what and how much you drink. He or she will also ask how often and how much you urinate and leak.
Your doctor will examine you and may carry out simple tests to determine the cause of your bladder control problem.
Treatment options are tailored differently for each person. It is dependent on the type of incontinence you have and how much it affects your life. After determining the cause of the incontinence, your treatment may include exercises, bladder training, medications, or a combination of these. Some women may even need surgery.
Certain lifestyle changes can also be used to control incontinence.
CAN URINARY INCONTINENCE BE PREVENTED?
Strengthening your pelvic muscles with Kegel exercises may lower your risk for incontinence.
You should also:
•Cut back on caffeinated drinks, such as coffee
•Eat foods high in fibre to help avoid constipation
•Do not smoke or quit if you already do
•Maintain a healthy weight It is advised to keep track of your symptoms and any leaking of urine, this way, your doctor can understand your condition and find the best treatment for you.