It happens at the most inopportune of times. It is a severely under-diagnosed and under-reported problem that increases with age. It is twice as likely among females as males.
“Pelvic floor exercises are one of the main treatments for female stress incontinence and are very effective in providing symptom relief. Success with pelvic floor exercises is very high in cases with mild to moderate stress incontinence.”
Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control (leaking urine). Can be annoying and embarrassing in equal measure. Often occurs in postpartum women and seniors. Stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or injuries are common causes. Incontinence may come in a variety of types, including:
- Stress incontinence occurs when abdominal pressure is placed on the bladder often caused by coughing, sneezing, laughing coughing, exercising, lifting or doing other similar activities.
- Urge incontinence. The sudden urge to urinate followed by an uncontrolled loss of urine. Urge incontinence may cause frequent urination neck and continued throughout the night. This type of incontinence may be caused by many conditions.
- Overflow incontinence. When a bladder does not fully empty, patients may have frequent urination or constant dribbling of urine.
- Lack of mobility. This is urinary incontinence that occurs because the patient’s mobility is limited and they cannot get to the bathroom in time.
- Mixed incontinence is a combination of more than one type of the above.
- Any activity that increases pressure on the bladder can cause vulnerability to urine loss, especially when the bladder is full. Stress incontinence is more common in women than men and occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken with age and childbirth.
Childbirth. During childbirth, tissue and nerve damage may occur during the delivery of an infant. Damage to these tissues and nerves may create weak pelvic floor muscles and can begin incontinence soon after delivery or years later.
What are treatments are available for urinary incontinence ?
- 1: Behavioral changes
- 2: Biofeedback to learn control of pelvic muscles and pelvic floor exercise
- 3: Nerve stimulations
- 4: Botox injections in the bladder wall
- 5: Medications -In people with overactive bladder, muscles in the bladder wall contract at the wrong time. Anticholinergics drugs are being used to treat OAB & UI by blocking the nerve signals related to bladder muscle contractions.
What surgical treatments are available for urinary incontinence?
Most common surgery for stress incontinence is the placement of a “sling” under the urethra where a mesh under the urethra is placed through a small incision in the vagina which helps the urethra remains closed preventing involuntary urine leakage. Bladder neck suspension is another operation, which also helps provide support for the urethra and the part of the bladder that connects to the urethra. But all operations have some complications, require anesthesia and admission in hospital
Urinary incontinence isn’t always preventable. However, to help decrease your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Practice pelvic floor exercises
- Avoid bladder irritants, such as caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods
- Eat more fiber, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence
- Don’t smoke, or seek help to quit smoking
In 1998, a team of Norwegian researchers conducted a six-month trial of the various treatment options for SUI. These included pelvic floor exercises, electrical stimulation, vaginal cones and no treatment. Of these, women who did pelvic floor exercises showed the most significant improvement.
More studies have backed up this finding since, including a recent publication by Dumoulin (et al 2011), which describes pelvic floor muscle training as having a “level-A evidence” rating.
Prof Fionnuala McAuliffe of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland says: “Pelvic floor exercises are one of the main treatments for female stress incontinence and are very effective in providing symptom relief. Success with pelvic floor exercises is very high in cases with mild to moderate stress incontinence.”