What is incontinence?
Essentially, incontinence is the loss of control over one’s bladder/bowel movements. Incontinence usually refers to the loss of urine during unplanned occasions, which can lead to embarrassment in public locations. Incontinence is usually associated with involuntary leaking and excretion.
Incontinence can be potentially damaging to a persons psychological well being, as patients often withdraw themselves from society as a result of their uncontrollable actions, which can in tern lead to severe cases of agoraphobia.
Incontinence can be treated through a variety of different means. Treatment is highly dependent on the cause of the actual incontinence, which is an area that will be covered in this article, however prescription drugs, dietary alterations and psychological treatment are among those commonly used.
The importance of investigating incontinence
It is highly important to investigate incontinence for a number of reasons. To start with, as previously mentioned, incontinence can lead to cases of agoraphobia , which is a potentially disabling psychological condition. Agoraphobia, in this case, is the fear of facing society with a condition such as incontinence.
It is also important to consider the fact that there are a three main different types of incontinence; understanding which case you have will help you to determine what treatment you should seek.
Whilst online resources can help you to identity your problem, you should always seek the advice of a medical professional as they will be able to accurately treat your condition based on a detailed evaluation of your personal symptoms.
Understanding the bladder
Urine is produced by the kidneys, which constantly passes through the ureters in a slow and trickily manner. The amount of urine you produce depends on the amount you drink and sweat, and to some extent, the amount you eat.
The bladder resembles a balloon to an extent; it expands in size when more urine enters it from the ureters. The urethra is a tube that takes urine out of the bladder; however, it is usually kept closed (for obvious reasons) by muscles underneath the bladder and the pelvic floor.
The brain tells you how full the bladder is, and when you’re ready ‘to go’. When you go to the toilet, the muscles surrounding the bladder contract, which squeezes urine out of the bladder.
Different types of incontinence
Stress incontinence is seen when the bladder experiences a sudden amount of extra pressure. Urine leaks because the muscles surround the bladder are unable to control and bear the extra pressure experienced through stress.
Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles around the bladder and pelvic wall have been weakened. It is the most common form of urinary incontinence and it is regularly seen is pregnant women during coughing/sneezing fits. It can also occur when significant pressure is put on the bladder, such as during jumping or exercise.
Overflow incontinence is more common in men than women, and is considered to be more of a ‘condition’ than stress incontinence. Overflow is particularly prominent in older men with enlarged prostates.
Overflow incontinence is where the bladder never stops excreting urine, creating a a symptom of constant dribbling. With overflow incontinence, patients often find themselves urinating without control for some time after initially going to the toilet.
The causes for this can range significantly, however it is usually a result of an enlarged prostate. Other causes include tumors, urinary stones and under active bladders.
Essentially, urge incontinence is just the inability to wait to go to the toilet. Patients experience a sudden urge to urinate and are not given sufficient time to get to the toilet.
Interestingly, urge incontinence can be triggered by various sounds, noises and emotions. For example, a patient might be suddenly driven to go to the toilet by the sound of running water. Whilst this is common with most people, urge incontinence prevents the patient from being able to not urinate, due to what medical professionals call ‘an unstable bladder’.
There are various treatments for urge incontinence. Behavioral training has seen moderate success, whilst arranged toilet times and bladder training has been quite useful to many patients. There are also surgical options, though many decide to undergo bladder training before resorting to this.
Mixed incontinence is if you encounter signs in excess of one kind of bladder control problems, for example stress urinary incontinence and urge urinary incontinence, you might have mixed urinary incontinence. Generally a single kind is much more annoying compared to others.
Signs or symptoms
It is extremely prevalent for women to have a mixture of both "stress" urinary incontinence and "over active bladder" signs or symptoms.
Over active Bladder
Should you trickle urine and also have sudden, powerful desires to use the bathroom or should you urinate excessively, you could have urge urinary incontinence or over active bladder.