Incontinence, also known as urinary incontinence, is when someone has lost control of their bladder. Put simply, they can’t control when they urinate. Some people have an overactive bladder, where they might leak some urine but have some control, while others have completely loss control. It can be an embarrassing thing to live with, but something that has a variety of treatment options available. Incontinence is more common in adults over 50, but younger people can also get the condition.
Symptoms of Incontinence
The signs and symptoms of incontinence vary based on the type of incontinence. There are five types of incontinence; stress, urge, overflow, functional, and mixed. Stress incontinence occurs when urine leads due to pressure on your lower abdominal muscles such as when you perform exercises, laugh, lift something, or cough. This can occur during surgery or childbirth, and is more common in women. Second, is urge incontinence which means you need to urinate at a moment’s notice and don’t usually have time to find a restroom before you urinate. You may have seconds or minutes, though it varies. This is also a sign of an overactive bladder or urinary tract infection and is more common in elderly. Overflow incontinence is the leakage of small amounts of urine from an over-filled bladder. If you can’t empty your bladder completely, you may experience overflow incontinence. It can be caused by a tumor or enlarged prostate gland, though not always. With functional incontinence you sometimes have normal urine control and other times have issues getting to the bathroom in time. This may be from arthritis or a physical disability. Mixed incontinence occurs when someone has more than one type of incontinence.
Causes of Incontinence
There is no single cause of incontinence, but rather a variety of risk factors. The possible causes and risk factors include someone who is aging, women who have a thinning of the skin in the vagina, men with an enlarged prostate, weakened pelvic muscles following childbirth, some medications, a buildup of stool, obesity, urinary tract infections, vascular disease and other diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The treatment options and their success rate depend on the cause of the incontinence. For example, if someone has incontinence because of obesity, their typical treatment plan is to lose weight and hope it releases some of the pressure on their bladder. Kegel exercises and bladder training can be done on anyone with poor pelvic muscle control, such as women after childbirth. Some medications can be used to help treat incontinence, such as estrogen cream for menopausal women or antibiotics for anyone who has incontinence as a result of a urinary tract infection.