Understanding what causes incontinence is the first step to preventing and treating this problem.
Urinary incontinence is a common condition that affects many people around the world. It is often a frustrating condition that affects bladder control. It can be caused by anything from pregnancy to aging to prostate problems.
Some of the most common causes are linked to childbirth, aging, or obesity. This article will talk about what causes incontinence, what the different types of incontinence are, and how to treat it.
What is incontinence
Incontinence is a condition that makes it difficult to stop the flow of urine from your bladder or fecal matter from your bowels. This can happen when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or exercise. It is not a disease that affects only adults – many children have trouble controlling their bladders and may also experience incontinence.
In order for someone to be diagnosed with urinary incontinence, they must leak at least once every two weeks without any effort on their part–known as stress incontinence.
If the person has an urgent need to urinate more than eight times per day (or greater) then this could indicate urge incontinence; if leaks are occurring due to an inability of the bladder muscles to contract fully after voiding, overflow incontinence may be present.
What are the different types of incontinence
There are 7 different types of incontinence that can affect people. They are:
- Urinary incontinence: when urine leaks from the urethra because of a problem with bladder sphincter control.
- Stress incontinence: leakage may be due to weakened muscles, childbirth, or aging
- Overflow incontinence: often results in accidents and is caused by overfilling (not emptying) of the bladder.
- Urge incontinence: also known as “sudden urge” syndrome; can result from conditions such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease.
- Fecal incontinence: leakage of loose or solid stool
- Micturition incontinence: leakage that can occur because the bladder is not emptied completely
- Nocturnal enuresis – also known as bedwetting. Occurs when a person urinates during sleep with no recollection of doing so and without any other medical condition causing it.
What are the symptoms of incontinence
Symptoms of bladder or fecal control problems (incontinence) can be easily spotted. You may have incontinence if you experience:
- Feeling a strong need to urinate or defecate
- Difficulty passing urine or stool
- Leaking or having an accident
What causes incontinence
So, what causes incontinence? They are often linked to weak pelvic muscles, overactive bladder, and other health issues.
Bladder control problems are usually caused by pelvic floor muscle weakness or stress, which can be the result of childbirth. Pelvic floor muscles support a person’s bladder. When these muscles weaken, people may have difficulty holding urine and leak involuntarily.
Urinary incontinence is often diagnosed when there is an overactive bladder that causes accidents in addition to leaks from weak pelvic floor muscles.
Fecal control problems (fecal incontinence) can also occur when one has not learned how to hold bowel movements until they find a toilet. In some cases, it may be due to constipation issues or intestinal issues such as diverticulosis, Crohn’s disease, or inflammatory bowel syndrome.
Some people may even experience both types of incontinence simultaneously because the pelvic floor muscles act with other parts of the body to control bladder and bowel function.
How to treat urinary incontinence
There are many ways to treat urinary incontinence. Most of them are relatively simple, for example:
1. Doing exercises that strengthen pelvic muscles such as Kegel exercises
Kegal exercises are also a way to treat urinary incontinence by strengthening pelvic muscles. When these muscles contract they help close off your urethra so leakage is less likely to happen.
The trick with this exercise is figuring out how often you need to do it in order for it to be effective. Some people only have time during their morning routine while others might benefit from doing them throughout the day.
If you’re looking for an easy activity that will protect against bladder weakness later in life then consider adding kegel exercises into your routine.
2. Wearing incontinence pads (or adult diaper)
Although it might be a bit uncomfortable for some people, it’s an effective way to avoid making a bigger mess. Incontinence pads can be used to absorb the small amount of urine that leaks when you cough or laugh. It’s also advisable to use it during bedtime, in case you experience nighttime bedwetting.
3. Modifying your diet
Changing your diet often helps to reduce incontinence. Food with more fiber and potassium is often recommended for the treatment of urinary incontinence, as both help with bladder control.
Some foods that are high in fiber include:
- Vegetables like carrots or spinach
- Whole grains such as quinoa or brown rice
- Beans and legumes such as black beans or garbanzo beans
- Fruits including apples and oranges
- Nuts such as cashews or almonds
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
Potassium-rich food sources include bananas (especially when they’re green), potatoes(not fried), tomatoes, dried apricots, avocados, and figs.
4. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
Drinking caffeine (coffee or tea) and alcohol can make bladder spasms worse, which reduces your ability to control your bladder. To avoid this, it’s advisable to reduce or avoid drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol.
5. Trying over-the-counter medication for urinary symptoms if needed
If your condition has yet to improve after trying steps 1 to 4, you may consider taking over-the-counter medication. It’s best to arrange an appointment with a specialist and seek further advice.
Who is at risk for developing incontinence and how can they prevent them
Depending on a person’s past and current health situation, the risk of having incontinence will vary.
Research shows that women who have had a caesarean section (C-section) are at higher risk of developing urinary incontinence. Menopause can cause stress and urge incontinence, so it is important to keep track of your symptoms over time if you experience any new changes in bladder control.
When snoring causes sleep apnea, the patient will often suffer from an overflow syndrome or wetting their bed when asleep – this condition is also called obstructive sleep apnea. Finally, people with diabetes may be more likely than others to develop nerve damage which leads to leakage of urine (urinary).
How to prevent getting urinary or fecal incontinence
It is possible to prevent incontinence by making some lifestyle changes. Incontinence can be prevented if you follow these steps:
- Carry a water bottle around with you everywhere (preferably one that has a clip so it doesn’t fall out of your bag) and drink at least 500ml (16 ounces) every day, more when the weather’s hot or dry
- Drink slowly in small sips rather than gulping down an entire glassful before standing up again
- Stretch your pelvic floor muscles by contracting and releasing them repeatedly (this can be done discreetly in public)
- Try to avoid any constipation, as this will put extra pressure on the bladder
- Avoid lifting heavy weights if you are over 35 years old. If you have a family history of incontinence or want to prevent it, don’t lift anything heavy at all after the age of 40
- Exercise regularly – try walking for 30 minutes every day. It’s also important not to exercise too close before bedtime because doing so will cause urination during sleep when blood flow slows down
If you or someone close to you is experiencing bladder control problems or fecal incontinence, the first step is getting in touch with a doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.
You can find a specialist through Smarter Health today. You can book an appointment with your chosen doctor to understand what causes incontinence for you and how to treat it.