Understanding Incontinence: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments Explained

Incontinence affects millions of people, yet myths and misconceptions still surround this common condition. By learning the facts around incontinence, the person affected can better manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. This article explores what exactly incontinence means, what causes it, the various types that exist, plus potential treatments and self-care strategies worth knowing.

Defining Incontinence and Common Symptoms

Incontinence refers to any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder. Symptoms can range from occasionally leaking urine when you sneeze or cough, to a sudden urge to urinate without getting to the toilet in time. Frequency, urgency, and having to urinate multiple times during the night all fall under the umbrella term too. Sufferers may deal with light dribbling, heavier uncontrolled emptying of the bladder, or anything in between.

Common Causes and Specific Types of Incontinence

Several physical factors can provoke urine leakage. Pregnancy and childbirth often weaken pelvic floor muscles meant to support bladder control. Meanwhile neurological diseases, UTIs, medications, and prostate issues can make it difficult to hold urine too. Then there’s aging – loss of oestrogen and poor bladder muscle tone contribute as women go through menopause and men have prostate gland enlargements.

There are various sub-types of incontinence as well:

  • Stress incontinence refers to urine escaping with actions like laughing, lifting heavy items, coughing, or exercise.
  • Urge incontinence involves a sudden need to go even if the bladder isn’t full.
  • Overflow incontinence is when the bladder does not empty all the way.
  • Total incontinence is when one cannot store any urine at all.

Getting an accurate diagnosis guides the right treatments for finding relief from symptoms.

Helpful Treatments and Management Strategies

From medication to physiotherapy and lifestyle tactics to supportive aids like adult pull ups, various incontinence remedies exist. Antimuscarinics may help by relaxing overactive bladders while some doctors prescribe oestrogen supplements to strengthen tissues post-menopause. Bladder training techniques can retrain one’s urination schedule. Pelvic floor exercises aim to strengthen the relevant muscles. Pads and handheld urinals manage leakage outside the home. Meanwhile cutting caffeine, monitoring fluid intake, and maintaining a healthy weight also benefit some individuals in reducing unwanted urine loss.

Surgeries like a sling procedure or implanting an artificial urinary sphincter serve as last resorts if the above suggestions prove continually ineffective for an individual. With milder cases, however, practical lifestyle adjustments and continence products often provide adequate support. Trial and error guides uncovering what works best for each unique person.

Creating a Management Plan with Your GP

If you struggle with incontinence that disrupts your daily activities, do speak up. Continence advisors and your general practitioner can perform assessments, suggest suitable treatments, and monitor progress over time. Be ready to track symptoms, describe any past surgeries or conditions, and outline current self-care attempts. Ongoing checkups then help determine if any adjustments need making.

While incontinence itself may not have an outright cure, taking proactive steps keeps it manageable. From protective pads to exercise regimens to prescription pills, solutions exist. But demystifying the basics behind these involuntary leaks marks the first step.

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4262 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.