Urinary Incontinence

What is urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is a term used to describe poor bladder control. There are may different types of incontinence with a number of possible causes. The following are the most common:

  • Stress incontinence
  • Urge incontinence
  • Incontinence associated with chronic retention, and
  • Functional incontinence.

What should I do?

The first step in improving bladder control is to have a full continence assessment carried out by a health professional. This assessment will take into account your medical history and current health, including diet and fluid intake, exercise levels and mobility, all the medicines you are currently taking, and any other factors that could affect bladder function.

Visit your doctor or other health professional if you have concerns about bladder control. Difficulty with bladder control can be prevented, treated, better managed, or cured. You shouldn't be embarrassed to discuss your urinary problems because many other people experience problems, too.

Strategies for living with urinary incontinence
The key to managing incontinence is:

  • Planning
  • Practice
  • Prevention
  • Problem-solving

You may discover that certain situations make you go to the toilet more or less often when you’re out. Knowing where the toilet is and going to the toilet as soon as you get the urge are habits that many people with bladder problems practice, especially when they’re away from home.

  • Locate bathrooms. Know where bathrooms are located at your destination, such as at a restaurant or shopping center.
  • Balance your fluid intake. Don't drink too much or too little. When you don't drink enough water, your urine becomes more concentrated and that can be irritating to the bladder and increase urgency.
  • Empty your bladder regularly. Plan how often you need to go to avoid an accident while you are away from home.
  • Select your seat carefully. Plan where you sit when traveling on public transportation or when you are out socially. When booking airline tickets, make sure to select an isle seat.
  • Keep a bladder diary. Successful treatment of urinary incontinence depends on identifying the type of incontinence. A bladder diary can be an excellent tool to help your doctor pinpoint which type of incontinence you have. Begin writing down what your drank, what time you drank it, how many times you urinated, and when you had leaking-urine episodes; include anything that led up to the accident, such as coughing, exercising, or a sense of urgency.
  • Doing pelvic floor exercises. Kegel exercises can benefit both men and women who have urinary incontinence. Doing these exercises regularly will strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and therefore help prevent leaking urine and the feeling of urgency.
  • Exercise. Some people who have urinary incontinence may shun exercise for fear of leaking urine, but regular exercise is very important for your overall health. People who have incontinence should work with their doctors to modify their exercise routines.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. You may be able to lower your risk of leaking urine by losing weight. Obesity and incontinence are often linked, likely because extra weight increases abdominal pressure, which can cause urinary incontinence.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption. Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, and they can be irritating to the bladder.
  • Quit smoking. Studies have shown that people who smoke are more prone to incontinence. Smoking damages the very small blood vessels in our bodies and causes tissue weakness.
  • Discuss medications. Certain medications, such as diuretics, some blood pressure medications, and antidepressants, can cause urinary incontinence. Talk to your doctor about any prescription and over-the-counter drugs your are taking.
  • Use adult pads and briefs. Often using adult pads or briefs is a good idea to protect against accidents and to make clean-up easier. Absorbent disposable undergarments help protect fragile skin by keeping moisture away from the body.

Millions of people live with bladder health problems, but with some lifestyle changes you can manage the condition and stay active.