If you occasionally leak urine when you cough, sneeze, or laugh, or have frequent sudden urges to urinate,then you likely suffer from urinary incontinence. While it can be an embarrassing problem, it’s not an uncommon one. According to U.S. health, about 30 million Americans are affected by urinary incontinence, making it a more common symptom than diabetes and asthma.
While incontinence can have a great impact on day-to-day life; typically it’s only a matter of a simple lifestyle adjustment or some type of medical treatment to help remedy the issue.
The first step to resolving any incontinence issue is determining which type of incontinence you have. There are many types, including:
- Stress incontinence: Leaking urine when you exert effort, such as coughing, laughing or sneezing
- Urge incontinence: The sudden urge to urinate
- Overflow incontinence: Described as the constant dribbling of urine, likely because you don’t completely empty your bladder when you use the restroom
- Mixed incontinence: More than one of the above symptoms
- Functional incontinence: Occurs typically among older people who have mental and/or physical disorders
- Total incontinence: The constant leaking of urine
If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, and your incontinence issues are impacting your every day life, it’s time to seek medical attention. You’ll likely be asked to keep a bladder diary to keep record of how often you urinate over a period of time and also be subject to a urinalysis and blood test to better help diagnose your condition and find a remedy. After your doctor has a chance to study your situation more closely, then treatment can be administered. Here’s a look at some of the common treatments for urinary incontinence:
- Bladder training: For less severe cases, this type of training teaches people to delay urination whenever they have the sudden urge to go. The end goal of bladder training is to gradually extend the time between bathroom trips.
- Dieting: Sometimes, all you need to do to cure incontinence problems is cut back from drinking so many fluids, especially caffeine and alcohol, cut back on the amount of acidic food you eat and exercise more.
- Exercise: Incontinence problems can stem from a weak bladder. Doing pelvic muscle exercises can help strengthen these muscles that help control urination.
- Medication: Your doctor may prescribe medication that can help control an overactive bladder. These medications are typically administered in conjunction with behavioral therapies such as bladder training so eventually people will no longer be dependent on the medication.
While the aforementioned are the remedies to treat minor to moderate cases of incontinence, there are more severe cases of the condition that call for further treatment:
- Urethra inserts: These disposable devices are inserted into the urethra to effectively plug it from leaking urine during certain activities or during certain periods of the day.
- Surgery: A sling procedure, bladder neck suspension and surgically inserting an artificial urinary sphincter are all common surgical procedures that can be implemented to solve an incontinence issue.
- Incontinence panties or incontinence briefs: Finally, if none of the other solutions are viable, there are absorbent pads, panties and briefs to help you manage urine leakage.
While incontinence may be an embarrassing medical condition, it’s not an uncommon one. So if it’s impacting your daily life, don’t be afraid to see your doctor and get the treatment to overcome the condition today.