The Embarrassing Leak

“Urinary Incontinence”

Why can’t I control my bladder?

You may have urinary incontinence which is the loss of bladder control. Strong external sphincters at the lower end of the bladder keep urine in and relax at the time we are ready to pass urine. This problem ranges from mild leaks to significant wetting. It is difficult to conceal this accident as the visual evidence on garments and unmistakable odor is overwhelming. In general, we are sympathetic with the elderly but for younger folks this embarrassing leak is “unfortunate”. Urinary incontinence affects both men and women but women are more affected by this medical disorder.

Several physical and mental conditions can cause urinary incontinence. These are the different types of incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence

This will happen when there is undue abdominal pressure such as pregnancy and childbirth. In milder situations, we occasionally experience a leak while exercising, laughing, coughing, or sneezing.

  • Urge incontinence

An overactive bladder will cause urge incontinence. A urinary infection, side-effect of some medication and bladder stones can cause this symptom. Other conditions such as damage to nerves and or muscles can result in this incontinence.

  • Overflow incontinence

When the bladder is full and not emptied in a timely manner, there is an overflow. This can happen when there is a blockage of the urethra or the bladder muscles are weak. A tumor can cause obstruction of the outflow of urine.

  • Functional incontinence

Any medical or mental conditions which prevent you from getting to the bathroom on time can result in embarrassing leaks. A person with severe arthritis may have this challenge.

Controlling Leaks with Lifestyle Changes

WOMWhen diagnosed with the condition, happily it is treatable and it is most certainly…not the end of the world!

Ladies, whether or not you have the occasional leak, make the Kegel/Pelvic floor exercises a part of your daily routine. Both you and your partner will be happy that you have mastered this exercise and the muscles of the pelvic floor are well toned.

Also, cultivate the habit of emptying your bladder when you feel the urge to urinate. One can retrain the bladder by noting when you are most likely to have the leak and then practicing to void before the spill.

Other treatments include biofeedback using monitors, the pessary device for women, sling procedures, tapes, indwelling catheters and injections to build the muscles in the urethral area.

Medical Solutions

There are medications which can be prescribed to suppress the contractions of the overactive bladder. Discuss with your physician what is available and the possible side-effects. Urinary infections are treated with antibiotics.

Surgical Treatment

Severe case of urinary incontinence may require surgery. This entails expanding the capacity of the bladder so that it can hold a greater volume of urine. There are several other procedures that can be performed by the urologist and the gynecologist.

Practical tips for mild cases of incontinence

  •  Loss excess pounds. Weight management for persons who are overweight can improve the incontinence.
  •  Strengthening the muscles that control the bladder by practicing the pelvic floor exercise. While urinating, interrupting the stream in between the flow is one effective exercise.
  •   In general, avoid drinking large volumes of fluid at one go. Instead drink small amounts throughout the day. Limit intake of alcohol.
  • Manufacturers have improved disposable diapers. They are attractive and less bulky. Consider wearing adult diapers at least until a permanent solution is explored.

It must be emphasized that you will need a consultation with your doctor who will make this determination and recommend the preferred treatment. Please note that treatment of incontinence is largely dependent on the type of incontinence being experienced.

Readers Bureau, Contributor

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