Loss of Bladder Control is not a Disease

By Rhonda King, RN Care Manager

 

It is a symptom and it is treatable

Being Incontinent simply means that you don’t have the same urinary (bladder) control that you used to have. This means for most, you are more likely to have accidents or suffer from leaks. This can be embarrassing and definitely affect one’s daily activities. But don’t lose heart, there are treatments. These range from home remedies (non-medical) to medicines and more precise treatments targeted at the cause of incontinence. There is even a special focus in physical therapy now for pelvic floor therapy. There are therapists for this in every state in the union. Sadly, most people don’t realize they have so many options to help treat urinary incontinence. 

Incontinence affects twice as many women as men.

Women are more likely to struggle with this than men in part because of having children. When a woman becomes pregnant, the enlarging uterus pushes on the bladder and can cause urine to leak out. This type of incontinence usually goes away after the delivery of the baby. Though there can be ongoing issues after giving birth due to the stretching of several pelvic floor muscles. Women also solely experience childbirth and menopause, so they have a larger number of causative agents rather than men. But incontinence is not a normal part of aging, although commonly referred to as such.  

Nerve damage can cause incontinence in either sex. Women can suffer nerve damage as a result of childbirth or other trauma. When nerves are affected that signal the bladder to empty and there is an interruption, there could be incontinence issues. Men can suffer from this same nerve injury post back surgery or from other trauma. These nerve issues can vary but there are implantable nerve stimulators now, that Urologists implant in outpatient settings to correct these types of incontinence in both sexes. 

Men also can suffer from incontinence once they have had prostate issues or surgeries. This varies for every man, but due to the function and anatomy of the prostate, it may be a causative factor for men who suffer from incontinence. These issues are also best addressed with the care of a Urologist to oversee symptoms/causes. 

Talking with your doctor is the key

In treating incontinence for a man or a woman, one big consideration is how often does it affect your daily living? If only on a rare occasion, you were to leak a few drops of urine from laughing heartily or coughing violently, it may not be a huge concern. If daily, you need to wear incontinence briefs and feel that it is a constant issue you address; then I urge you to discuss it further with your doctor and ultimately a Urologist. Simple exercises such as Kegal exercises that contract the pelvic floor muscles are most helpful. They can be done daily at any point or time. The contraction of these muscles to create the feeling of stopping a stream of urine from coming out is the sensation you are working for. To repeat these x10-15 times in a row, as often as you think of, in the day is an easy way to strengthen muscles and hopefully cut back on incontinence symptoms. It is also wise to avoid excessive caffeine or too many drinks into the night, before bedtime to lower some symptoms of incontinence. 

Lastly, all incontinence issues are worthy of being mentioned to your physician. It is always necessary to rule out a urinary tract infection or structural issues involving the bladder and urethra. Your physician may feel there is a medicine that can assist in reducing symptoms of incontinence or he may recommend the evaluation of a nerve stimulator but that is why it is imperative to include your doctor in these discussions. Most importantly, don’t be embarrassed or think “I can’t leave the house now” due to this. There are answers and solutions for incontinence.    

 

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