Urinary incontinence is a serious medical problem faced by many people. An overactive bladder limits control over the urinary bladder and often leads to involuntary leakage of urine. It is a common problem faced by the elderly, especially women, and can create an embarrassing situation for people suffering from such problems.
The urinary bladder is a hollow organ located in the lower part of the abdomen. During urination, the urine moves into the tube-shaped urethra due to the tightening of muscles in the bladder. Simultaneously, the muscles around the urethra relax and allow the urine to pass. However, due to the inability of the muscles to contract and release in tandem, urine may leak out involuntarily. This is the major cause of urinary incontinence.
Reasons for Urinary Incontinence
Several factors may cause urinary incontinence. In some people, urinary tract infections, vaginal irritation, or even constipation may lead to this problem. Sometimes, the use of certain medicines also causes temporary urinary incontinence.
Here are a few reasons that might lead to urinary incontinence for prolonged periods.
Damaged nerves due to diseases like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, etc. may limit control over the muscles in and around the urinary bladder
Weak pelvic floor muscles or arthritis in elderly people may cause urinary incontinence
Overactive bladder muscles
Pelvic organ prolapse prevents the urethra and the urinary bladder to stop functioning normally
People suffering from arthritis may suffer from accidental urine leakage due to their inability to reach the bathroom on time.
Prostatitis, an inflammatory condition of the prostate gland, may cause urinary incontinence in men
Elderly men may suffer from an enlarged prostate gland which in turn leads to incontinence
Common Types of Incontinence
The problem of incontinence may vary from one person to the other. While some suffer from temporary problems, others have to resort to medication to control urine leakage.
Stress incontinence: Among younger and middle-aged women, this is the most common bladder control problem. It may result in urine leakage due to laughing, coughing, sneezing, exercising, or lifting heavy objects. All these activities put pressure on the bladder and may cause temporary urinary incontinence.
Overflow incontinence: People suffering from an enlarged prostate gland, diabetes, or spinal cord injuries may find it difficult to empty the bladder completely. As a result, they always have the urge to urinate and the bladder seems to be full all the time. Urine may leak out in small quantities due to this problem.
Urge incontinence: Due to a number of medical problems people may not be able to hold their urine for longer. They may feel the need to urinate immediately and cannot hold it long enough to reach the toilet.
People with healthy bladder control may suffer from functional incontinence when they have a problem reaching the toilet on time. For instance, people with arthritis find it difficult to move around and may leak urine due to their inability to find a restroom.
Treatment of Urinary Incontinence
Depending on the type of bladder control problem one suffers from, treatments vary. Doctors may suggest pelvic muscle exercises, timed voiding and urgency suppression methods, medication, electrical nerve stimulation, and sometimes surgery is recommended to treat mild to severe urinary incontinence.
With timely intervention, urinary incontinence is treatable, and one can lead healthy and happy lives.