People who experience poor control of their bladder muscles often suffer from urinary incontinence. The problem could range from the loss of a few drops to a complete inability to retain urine. Incontinence is the loss of control of the passing of urine or involuntary urination. It is not some kind of disease, but it can be caused by a variety of reasons that include a loss of bladder control, anal surgery, certain medication, diabetes, chemotherapy, etc. The change in hormone levels, and weakening of the muscles of the bladder and those that control urination, are among the most common reasons for incontinence in old age.
The ‘Urination Aid Foundation’ reports that between a quarter to a third of men and women in the United States suffer from at least some kind of urinary incontinence. Ignoring incontinence will lead you nowhere. Urinary incontinence causes physical discomfort, which affects your daily life and causes emotional stress.
Although millions of people suffer from incontinence, most of them may experience different symptoms. The symptoms for incontinence vary based on their type. It is essential to discuss the symptoms and characteristics of different types of urinary incontinence to understand them better. There are four prominent types of incontinence, which are:
1. Urge incontinence
Urge incontinence refers to the arising of an urgent need to pass urine. Patients may experience a robust and uncontrolled need to urinate and may fail to control urine from leaking before they get the time to enter a toilet. Urge incontinence is a report of an involuntary loss of urine that occurs at any time before the person feels the need to visit a toilet. Urge incontinence can also occur due to an overactive bladder (OAB), in which a person experiences a sudden involuntary contraction of the muscular wall of the bladder creating an unstoppable need to urinate, and followed by the occurrence of leakage.
Urge incontinence is a frequent and acute desire to drain, followed by loss of urine; The urine is often lost on the way to the toilet. People with Urge incontinence (UI) may need to pee more than 8-10 times a day, as well as an additional 2 or more times during the night. Urinary incontinence, which occurs only at night, is called nocturnal enuresis.
2. Stress incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is caused by the weakening of the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor. This, in turn, puts an increasing amount of pressure or stress on the bladder. If you experience a loss of urine or feces simultaneously without physical exertion, then you are suffering from stress urinary incontinence. Instances of stress incontinence include an involuntary loss while exercising, or while sneezing, running or coughing.
For many people, stress incontinence causes significant discomfort and reduces the quality of their life because patients may not be able to perform certain tasks or engage in leisurely activities. It is also the most common form of urinary incontinence in women. This can happen at any age, especially if a woman is pregnant or has given birth, but it is believed that this may occur more often in older women due to the hormonal changes they experience during menopause.
3. Overflow incontinence
Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder cannot be emptied entirely, causing involuntary leakage of urine. This is caused by unnecessary pressure on the bladder and urinary tract. It is also termed as chronic urinary retention. Constipation, a damaged nerve, weak muscles of the bladder, and a blockage in the urethra are the leading causes of Overflow incontinence.
In men, this type of incontinence is usually caused by an enlarged prostate that blocks or slows the flow of urine from the bladder. If you suffer from overflow incontinence, you will often or consistently experience urine loss because the bladder is not completely empty. If the bladder does not empty completely, it can lead to infections or other problems.
4. Mixed incontinence
Sometimes people can experience more than one type of urinary incontinence simultaneously; this is known as mixed incontinence. It is usually a combination of urge and stress incontinence and displays the symptoms of both Stress incontinence and Urges incontinence as well. It is characterized by an involuntary loss associated with urgency, and can be caused by physical exertion, sneezing, or coughing. One of the causes of mixed incontinence is the excessive efficiency of the bladder caused by physical movements. People usually describe experiencing strong urges to urinate immediately after coughing or sneezing, during exercise, or even after laughing, or other events that are challenging to suppress and require a quick visit to the toilet soon after.
Prevention/Treatment of incontinence:
- Limit the consumption of caffeine, spicy food, tobacco and alcohol
- Start pelvic exercise
- Bladder Training (increase the waiting time between urination to retrain the bladder)
- Weight management
- Control sugar levels
- Adopt a healthier lifestyle
- Control urges to pass urine
- Avoid constipation
- Talk to your doctor about medication
The severity of urinary problems varies from person to person, and what is comfortable for one person can be a severe problem for another. It is essential to identify, type and cause urinary incontinence, to be able to control symptoms, avoid shame and skin irritation. Identifying the type of urinary incontinence and recognizing the symptoms makes it easy to get treatment and select medication or incontinence products that would help treat the problem. Absorbent products like pull-on, adult diapers, and under-pads are a practical way to relieve the embarrassment and irritation caused by urinary leakage.