Are urine leaks seriously impeding on your daily and social life? If so, there are several options available to help you. Yes, it is possible to regain your freedom and get back to an active lifestyle!
What is urinary incontinence?
Embarrassing and uncomfortable, urine leaks can be the source of endless worrying. Often associated with aging, they actually affect people of all ages. And anyone can experience urine leakage during their lifetime, whether it’s after a hearty laugh, a sneeze, a coughing fit or during pregnancy or childbirth. When leaks become more frequent and permanent, it is referred to as urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is defined as the involuntary leaking of urine in problematic quantities.
What are the causes of urinary incontinence?
Although it is true that urinary incontinence is partly associated with aging, it actually has numerous causes. They can be temporary, but are often long-lasting.
Here are some examples:
- weakening of bladder muscles and muscles that support it;
- medications that increase urine leakage;
- urinary infections;
- severe constipation;
- diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease;
- prostate disorders.
Types of urinary incontinence
There are different types of urinary incontinence, categorized depending on the mechanism that causes it.
- Stress or effort urinary incontinence. It is the most common form, caused by pressure on the stomach due to laughing, coughing, sneezing or physical strain, for example. This usually causes light to moderate urine leaks.
- Urge urinary incontinence or overactive bladder. People who suffer from this type get an urgent and sudden need to urinate as soon as the bladder contains a little bit of urine. This can occur both day and night. It causes moderate to heavy urinary leakage.
- Overflow incontinence. Involuntary urine leakage when the bladder is too full. Occurs mostly at night and is more frequent in men.
- Functional incontinence. This occurs when the person cannot get to the bathroom in time because of a neurological problem or physical disability.
- Reflex incontinence. Urinary leaks occur without; leakage is involuntary and sudden, with no apparent reason.
Treatments and protection products
The first step in managing incontinence is identifying its cause(s). If it or they can be eliminated, urinary incontinence will be quickly controlled. Otherwise, there are several therapeutic options to promote urine retention. Discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist in order to make the right choice in terms of your health and other medications you may be taking.
Medications used to manage urine leaks are called antispasmodics. As their name indicates, they prevent bladder spasms that lead to urine leakage. They can sometimes cause side effects such as blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth or drowsiness, and you may have to try several before finding the medication that suits you. Consult your pharmacist for more information.
You will also notice that several types of bladder-control products are available at your pharmacy.
The ones you will most likely see are:
- protective liners and pads that adhere to the bottom of underwear;
- protective underwear that is worn like normal underwear;
- adjustable protection underwear with side tabs or a belt.
These incontinence products come in various sizes and levels of absorption. It is important to choose the product that is the most adapted to your needs. Consult your pharmacist for advice.
How you can manage urinary incontinence
Fortunately, several measures can be taken to reduce urinary incontinence and regain control of your bladder. Certain changes in lifestyle can be very helpful.
- If you suffer from urinary leakage at night, limit your intake of fluids as of 5 p.m. and, if possible, avoid drinking fluids after 7 p.m.
- Avoid liquids and foods that are considered irritating to the bladder, such as coffee, citrus and chocolate.
- Aim for a healthy weight. Being overweight plays a significant role in urinary incontinence.
- Increase your daily intake of fibre. Don’t forget that constipation is a cause of urinary incontinence.
- Go to the bathroom at pre-set, regular times. Gradually, try to space your bathroom visits.
- Ask your health professional about Kegel exercises, which are designed to strengthen the pelvic muscles (muscles around the bladder and anus).
Urinary incontinence should not limit your activities; you are entitled to enjoy them to the fullest without fearing embarrassing urinary leaks. There are effective ways to regain control of your bladder, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Say no to urinary incontinence and yes to an exciting life lived with utmost peace of mind!