Urinary incontinence refers to a situation when a person suffers from unintentional ad uncontrolled release of urine. Commonly, this leakage occurs during a cough, laugh or sneeze, or when you have the urge to urinate but cannot reach the bathroom in time. It’s important to realize that incontinence is not a disease but a symptom. Incontinence is a byproduct of some other problem within the lower urinary tract. Urinary incontinence does not normally lead to major health problems, but it can obviously be unpleasant and embarrassing. With that being said, urinary incontinence is actually quite common (especially with older adults) and is relatively easy to treat.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence
Urge incontinence and stress incontinence are the two most common types of incontinence within females. Understanding the difference between these two is the key to understanding their causes.
Type #1 – Stress Incontinence
Significant weight gain and childbirth can stretch the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles control the bladder, and when they’re stretched they cannot do their job of closing off the urethra. This situation can get worse if you continue smoking and being overweight.
Type #2 – Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence is sort of the reverse of stress incontinence. Only instead of being caused by a lack of muscle contraction, it’s caused by the muscles contracting involuntarily.
Urge incontinence can be caused by a number of factors, including kidney stones, bladder stones, tumors that press on the bladder, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or simply age-related changes in the bladder muscle.
Preventing Urinary Incontinence
There are several things you can do to reduce your chances of developing urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, thereby reducing the chances of stress incontinence. Maintaining a healthy weight and being a non-smoker also go a long way toward preventing incontinence.
Treatment for Urinary Incontinence
There are several treatments for urinary incontinence. Talk to your doctor to determine the treatment that’s right for you, as it will depend on the cause of your incontinence and other factors. Treatments may include medication, lifestyle changes, special exercises or minimally invasive surgery
If you’ve seen your doctor because you are experiencing incontinence then you probably are already aware that the treatments can range from behavior modification to surgery. For many people, a simple change in routine can cure or manage the condition and this obviously is a far more desirable route to take than incontinence medication that may have side effects or surgery which always has risks. Urinary incontinence treatments that involve nothing more than an awareness of how and what you eat and drink can be exceptionally helpful.
Here’s a shortlist of self-help steps and incontinent solutions that you can do to reduce the risk of urinary incontinence:
Reduce the Number of Fluids You Take in
If you consume an abundant amount of fluids then simply cutting back may be the answer to giving your bladder a break. Particularly limit the number of fluids you take in during the evening to ensure a dry night’s sleep. However, don’t cut back so far that you become dehydrated. If you become dehydrated you risk a number of problems and you won’t be doing yourself any favors for your incontinence problem. The kidneys will create denser, heavier urine to send to the bladder and that extra weight is often enough to force leakage through the urethra.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine
Both of these liquids are natural diuretics which of course will increase the urge to go. Cut back on coffee, tea, sodas and chocolates and reduce the amount of alcohol you consume.
Acidic Food and Spicy Food
Citrus fruits, tomatoes and almost every type of spicy food can irritate the bladder and cause it to spasm resulting in urinary incontinence. This one’s a tough one to do if you are a fan of spicy foods or if you can’t start your day without a large glass of orange juice.
There are many more urinary incontinence treatments that are doing it yourself like bladder training and Kegel exercises. Discuss all of these options with your doctor to determine what’s best suited for you.
Supplements and Creams
There are a few supplements and creams claiming to be effective for urinary incontinence, however as they are based on ideas that have been extrapolated from data in reference to other conditions and no research at all has been done in reference to this condition, I am highly skeptical.
However, in order to be fair, I had to mention them here. These so-called Bladder Support Formulas seem to be based on the idea that lack of estrogen is the main cause of bladder incontinence and use soy products to try to rectify this. I am not at all convinced that they work and believe that you have a better chance of reclaiming control of your waterworks through movement and exercise.