Urinary incontinence is a condition where a person cannot control urine due to an overactive bladder (OAB). The condition and its symptoms are not often talked about but if identified early, it can be treated using several ways. Studies show that while this condition can happen to anyone, it is more common in elders.
What are the causes of urinary incontinence?
According to Dr Sunitha Lobo, consultant gynecologist, Fortis Bangalore, urinary tract infections, pregnancy, beverages like alcohol, constipation and medications like anti-depressants and diuretics (help release more sodium into urine) can cause temporary or short-term urinary incontinence.
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Chronic or long-term causes of incontinence include pelvic floor disorders, dropped bladder (bladder bulges into vaginal space), stroke, diabetes, and menopause. She emphasizes that urinary incontinence is most commonly seen in pregnant and menopausal women.
“During pregnancy, the growing baby squishes your bladder, increasing the feeling of urge to pee. Pelvic floor muscles also weaken as your uterus expands, especially towards the end of pregnancy when the baby has grown large. This leads to Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) that causes a leaky bladder during exercise, walking, bending, lifting, or even sneezing and coughing. It can be a few drops of urine to a tablespoon or more. SUI can be mild, moderate, or severe,” she added.
Types of urinary incontinence
Dr Shekhar Sathaye, chief of urology, Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre (IKDRC), Ahmedabad says, that there are different types of urinary incontinence:
- Urge incontinence caused by an OAB
- Stress incontinence caused due to pregnancy
- Overflow incontinence caused if bladder isn’t emptied each time you urinate or having a too-full bladder
- Temporary incontinence due to an infection or new medication.
- Mixed incontinence caused due to both stress incontinence and OAB
Tests to detect urinary incontinence
A few tests that can detect this condition are:
- Physical examination
- Urine sample testing
- Stress test
- Cystoscopy or urodynamic testing
How to treat urinary incontinence
Once the specialist has determined the type of incontinence, different treatment options including surgery are available.
- Medication prescribed by urologists
- Physical activities
- Avoid constipation
- Identifying the trigger for mixed incontinence
- Certain lifestyle changes like emptying your bladder at regular intervals or before physical activity.
- Moderating fluid intake
- Strengthening pelvic floor muscles with exercise
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Wearing a pad or other products that reduce leakage
- An artificial urethral sphincter placed to close the urethra when not urinating (used commonly after prostate surgery in men)
- An indwelling catheter (catheter inserted into urethra to drain urine into a bag outside the body)
- Urinary incontinence is a condition where a person cannot control their bladder.
- Various tests such as physical examination, urine test, stress test and cystoscopy can be used to detect urinary incontinence.
- Once detected, it can be treated using different options.