Urinary incontinence refers to a condition of involuntary leakage of urine. It happens when a person loses control over his bladder, thus, resulting in the unintentional passing of urine. In some cases, the bladder empties completely (due to uncontrolled flow), while in the other cases, a person may experience only minor leakages.
It is a very embarrassing situation both emotionally and physically, especially when the person experiences it in public. It occurs when the muscles of the bladder that control the flow of urine, relax and contract involuntarily.
It is a very common problem that affects millions of people in today’s world. It can be a temporary or long-term (chronic). People above 40 are more likely to suffer from this condition. And women are twice as susceptible as men to this body disorder. An estimated study shows that 30 percent of women above 30 are suffering from it while the percentage of men affected is only 1.5-5.
The effects of urinary incontinence are however different at different ages. Both men and women have different risks at different point of time. In childhood, the bladder control is seen early in girls than boys. And bedwetting is more common in boys at an early age.
However, adult men have a full control over their bladder while adult women suffer from urinary incontinence (UI) more likely. This is because adult women undergo a lot of changes in their body during pregnancy and delivery. Men suffer from urinary incontinence too but less likely than women. Though it occurs more often with age, it is not an inevitable part of aging.
If a person is suffering from urinary incontinence, he/she should immediately see the doctor. In many cases and with most of the people, simple positive changes in the lifestyle and proper medication can ease discomfort or stop urinary incontinence.
There are many different types of urinary incontinence:
Stress incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urinary in presence of a trigger which is actually generated due to stress. The term “stress” refers to physical pressure rather than mental stress. Stress incontinence occurs because of the poor closure of the bladder. When the muscles that control the urination process are placed under some sudden extra pressure, the person may urinate involuntarily.
The following actions may trigger stress incontinence:
This most common type of urinary incontinence is seen especially among women. It can occur at any stage of life. The physical change of pregnancy, childbirth or menopause weakens the pelvic muscles or ligaments that are responsible for bladder support. And so it is more likely to occur at such stages of life in women.
In this type of incontinence, a person suddenly feels an urge to empty his bladder. It occurs due to an overactive bladder. It is also known as reflex incontinence.
It is the second most common type of urinary incontinence. People suffering from urge incontinence suddenly feel an urge to urinate that cannot be delayed or stopped. It is due to a sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscular wall of the bladder.
When the urge to urinate appears, the person cannot hold the urine for longer. He or she has a very short time before the urine is released. The person may urinate more than eight times a day (which is not counted as normal) and twice overnight.
Urge continence occurs more due to mental reflex than physical reflex.
The urge to urinate may be caused by:
This condition occurs twice as frequently in women as in men and increases with age.
If a person cannot empty his bladder completely at a time, he may dribble urine. This happens when a person is suffering from overflow incontinence.
In women, weak bladder muscles, a blocked urethra, prolapsed pelvic organ or kidney stones can cause overflow incontinence. It is due to poor bladder contraction or blockage of the urethra.
It is more common in men who are having
The bladder cannot hold as much urine as the body is making causing the overflow, and/or the bladder cannot empty completely, causing small amounts of urinary leakage. Patients will need to urinate frequently, and they may experience constant dripping of urine from the urethra.
With functional incontinence, the person knows that there is a need to urinate, but cannot make it to the bathroom in time. This may be due to medications or health problems which makes it difficult for the patient to reach bathroom on time. Functional incontinence is not related to bladder and urethra problems.
Generally, functional incontinence is caused by poor eyesight, poor mobility, dementia (brain disease affecting memory and thinking capability), poor dexterity (inability to unbutton pants in time) or unwillingness to go to the bathroom.
It is also a side effect of other diseases like arthritis, Alzheimer’s.
This type of incontinence is more common among elderly people suffering from diseases like arthritis or Alzheimer’s. It is common in nursing homes and old age homes.
It is a temporary form of urinary incontinence that lasts a short time. It is usually caused by medications or a temporary condition.
It is caused by a temporary medical condition such as:
People suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, severe constipation, inflamed bladder, irritated urethra or vagina are more likely to suffer from this type of incontinence.
It occurs when a patient experiences both stress and urge incontinence at the same time. It can include leakage of urine initiated by a trigger and a strong, sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate immediately.
The same factors that trigger stress and urge incontinence are involved in mixed incontinence. Weakened pelvic floor muscles, poor connective tissue with activities increase physical pressure in the abdomen (stress incontinence), abnormal nerve signals trigger inappropriate contractions of the muscles in the bladder wall, creating the uncontrollable urge.
Most people who have incontinence have mixed incontinence.
When a person completely loses his control over his urine, he is suffering from gross total incontinence. In this condition, either the person leaks urine continuously or periodically large amounts of urine in an uncontrollable manner.
Anatomic abnormalities or a severe injury can result in this incontinence.
People who are born with a defect may have an injury to the spinal cord or urinary system or may have a hole (fistula) between the bladder and the vagina.
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