The loss of bladder control known as incontinence is not just a condition among senior citizens, but is common in many age groups and manifests itself in several different ways. As the Baby Boomers age, a wide range of products have come into the marketplace that make dealing with incontinence seem natural, but the results are often embarrassing for those who suffer from it, regardless of how old they are, what causes it, and what type it is. The condition is more common among women. Fortunately, you can control the condition with medication and behavior modification.
Types of Incontinence
There are several types of urinary incontinence. The two most common are:
Stress incontinence results from placing pressure on the bladder through laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising, or heavy lifting.
Urge incontinence, or involuntary loss of urine (aka overactive bladder) results in an immediate need to empty the bladder. It is prevalent as people age and also among diabetics, the obese, less mobile individuals, and those with neurologic conditions as the bladder loses its ability to store urine.
What Causes Incontinence?
The condition can be temporary or persistent. Temporary causes that result in overstimulation of the bladder may include:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Carbonated drinks
- Corn syrup
- Decaffeinated coffee and tea
- Large doses of vitamin B or C
- Spicy, sugary, or acidic foods
- Urinary tract infections
Temporary incontinence may go away when the substance that causes it has passed out of the system.
Permanent incontinence is of more long-lasting duration, as eliminating the cause requires more than just eliminating coffee or pop from your diet. Common causes include:
- Neurological disorder
- Urinary tract obstructions
Treating Incontinence with Behavior Modification
To diagnose the causes of incontinence, your doctor may do a variety of tests and even prescribe medication. To successfully keep the problem in check, however, it is important to incorporate some behavioral changes into your routine.
- Train your bladder. By forcing yourself to hold it for increasing lengths of time, you may be able to build up your muscles to the point where you only have to urinate every 2 to 4 hours.
- Double voiding. By going to the bathroom again a few minutes after going the first time, you may be able to completely empty your bladder to reduce the risk of leaking.
- Schedule your toilet trips. If you put yourself on the schedule of every 2 to 4 hours rather than waiting until the urge strikes you, you may be able to reduce the number of bathroom tips.
- Fluid and diet control. By reducing your consumption of foods and drinks in your diet that stimulate your bladder, such as coffee, pop, or spicy foods, you can reduce you need to urinate frequently. For overactive bladder in particular, you can reduce liquid you consume, especially around bedtime, lose weight, and exercise more.
- Strengthen your pelvic wall. By strengthening the muscles that control urination through Kegel exercises, you can reduce both stress and age incontinence.
Get Help for Incontinence
Incontinence is an inconvenient problem whether it results from aging, temporary factors, or serious conditions. You not only are at risk for more urinary tract infection and skin problems due to excess moisture on the skin, but the condition can cause disruption in your work and social life. For testing, remedies, and more tips for controlling incontinence, schedule an appointment at Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Services.