What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine that is resulted from the weakened or loss of control over the urinary sphincter.
While it may happen to anyone, urinary incontinence is more common in older people. However, urinary incontinence can often be cured or controlled.
Different types of Urinary Incontinence
There are 4 types of Urinary Incontinence - Stress Incontinence, Urge Incontinence, Overflow Incontinence, Functional Incontinence.
1. Stress Incontinence
Stress Incontinence occurs when too much pressure is applied on the bladder causing a leakage. Excessive stress on bladder is common in activities such as exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing or lifting of heavy objects.
2. Urge Incontinence
Urge Incontinence occurs when there is a sudden need to urinate but the bladder cannot hold long enough for the person to get to the washroom. This may be a common problem for people who have diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke.
3. Overflow Incontinence
Overflow Incontinence occurs when there is a small amount of leak from a bladder that is always full. This is common in diabetic patients, persons with spinal cord injuries or males with enlarged prostate that blocks the urethra, which then prevents the bladder from emptying completely.
4. Functional Incontinence
Functional Incontinence occurs in many older people who have normal bladder control. They just often have a problem getting to the toilet because of mobility issues such as arthritis or other disorders that makes it hard for them to move quickly.
As you age, the bladder has a reduced capacity to store urine, thus the risk of urinary incontinence increases with age. Unfortunately, many do not seek medical attention due to embarrassment. Urinary incontinence is nothing to be embarrassed about, it is an important aspect for us to embrace and learn.
Preventative measures should begin early and can be of great help . Good control of blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol levels help to prevents other complications which may lead to bladder problems. Treating of constipation also improves urine flow in many older people.
For the majority, the quality of life that is compromised by the issue of incontinence can be improved or overcome by preventive measures mentioned above.
1. Pelvic Muscle Exercises
The Pelvic Muscle Exercise also known as Kegal Exercises are designed to make your pelvic floor muscles stronger. These are the muscles hold up your bladder and prevent leakage. Building up these muscles can help with bladder control.
2. Timed Voiding
Timed voiding controls the urge and incontinence through setting consistent time intervals for urinating. For starters, you can set washroom visits to every hour and slowly extend the time between bathroom trips as you go along. This would help the body get normalised to a fixed schedule for washroom visits and help them gain greater control as the intervals increases.
3. Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes like losing weight, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, decreasing caffeine intake, getting enough fibre to prevent constipation and avoiding heavy lifting can help with incontinence. Choosing plain water instead of other drinks and limiting drinks before bedtime may also help.
In severe cases of incontinence, the use of pads, diapers and catheters are needed.
For older adults who are experiencing functional incontinence, mobility aids such as walking canes, walkers or rollators can assist them in getting to the washroom.
Other accessories such as the wireless SOS alarm pager can also help to alert caregivers who can then assist those with urge or functional incontinence.