Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder control. This means that an individual can in voluntarily leak urine in specific circumstances. It is estimated that approximately 25 million adults in the United States alone suffer from some form of urinary incontinence. The sheer number of people who experience this condition prompted manufacturers to come up with acceptable means of controlling the situation so that more people would not be socially isolated.
Women experienced urinary incontinence over twice as often as men. Much of the difference can be accounted for by the structure of the female urinary tract, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause, all of which significantly impact the function of the urinary tract system. Both the men and women can become incontinent from other issues such as neurological injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis and other physical conditions that are associated with aging.
Incontinence happens because there are problems and issues with the muscles and nerves that control the release and the ability to hold urine. The body stores urine in the bladder which is a pelvic organ shaped much like a balloon. The bladder is connected to the urethra which is a tube through which urine leaves the body. The process of urination is a complex orchestration of nerve innervation and muscle control. The muscles in the wall of the bladder contracts which forced the urine out of the bladder at the same time that sphincter muscles relax.
There are actually several different types of urinary incontinence. The first of which is stress incontinence in which laughing, coughing and sneezing can put enough pressure on the bladder to allow leakage. This is the most common type of bladder control problems that women experience and in many cases it can be treated.
The most common causes for stress incontinence involves the stress or injury to the pelvic structures that support the bladder, such as childbirth. Many women find that stress incontinence will worsen during the week before her menstrual period when estrogen level of our lower that leads to lower muscular pressure around the urethra.
Another type of urinary incontinence is urge incontinence which is when the individual has a strong need to urinate but cannot reach the toilet in time. This happens to women even when the bladder is holding a small amount of urine. Some have no warning at all before they accidentally leak urine. This can happen when they are drinking water or when they hear running water.
Another cause of urinary incontinence is an overactive bladder. In this condition there are abnormal nerve signals sent to the bladder at the wrong time which causes the muscles to squeeze without warning. Not all individuals who have an overactive bladder also suffer from urinary incontinence. Men and women who suffer from an overactive bladder find that they have to go to the bathroom more than seven times each day. They often feel the sudden and strong urge to urinate immediately and can suffer from leakage often awakening at night in order to urinate.
Some individuals suffer from functional incontinence that results from a medical condition which interferes with thinking, moving or communication. For instance, a person who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease may not plan a trip to the bathroom in enough time or an individual in a wheelchair may have trouble getting to the bathroom in time.
Some individuals will suffer from a combination of reasons for incontinence and this can be referred to as mixed incontinence. Most women and men did not have one pure reason and some studies have shown that mixed incontinence is actually the most common type of urinary incontinence in women.
Men and women who suffer from urinary incontinence can experience a range of symptoms from an occasional leaking when coughing or sneezing to having the sudden urge to urinate and not being able to get to the toilet on time. Urinary incontinence will affect day-to-day activities and even now it may feel a bit embarrassing, you should not hesitate to see your primary care physician and discuss both diagnosis and treatment options. In most cases very simple lifestyle changes or medical treatments can make your daily activities much more functional and stop urinary incontinence.