Incontinence Basics and Management Tips

For many people, a diagnosis of urine incontinence is stressful. This situation can lead to self-imposed isolation and be an impediment to career progression. Treatment usually involves medications and/or surgery. But now, doctors have confirmed that there is an option that doesn’t involve these two approaches.

Urinary Incontinence Defined

It consists of uncontrolled urine leakage. Although the risk increases as a woman gets older, it can occur at any age. One of the mechanisms for bladder control involves the muscles of the pelvic floor in conjunction with the urethral sphincter. If for some reason these muscles are not working properly, urine leakage can occur. According to the American College of Physicians’ guidelines, exercises that strengthen these muscles can help to alleviate incontinence symptoms.

Symptoms

The main symptom is urine leakage preceded by an urgent desire to urinate. In most cases, a woman with this problem cannot make it to the restroom or other convenient places before leaking. Almost every person has experienced some degree of incontinence in their lives. Among women, pregnancy is one of the risk factors, but in most cases the issue auto-corrects post-partum.

Varieties of Urinary Incontinence

It is important to know the type of incontinence one is suffering from for the right type of exercise to be prescribed. Common types include:

  • Urge incontinence. This is characterized by a sudden and uncontrolled urge to pass urine.
  • Stress incontinence. This is caused due to the exertion of force by the muscles of the abdomen during laughter, sternutation, exercise, and other such circumstances.
  • Temporary incontinence. This type is usually due to a reversible cause. This can be an illness or medication.
  • Overactive bladder (OAB). The main cause of OAB is increased bladder muscle spasms.
  • Functional incontinence. This disorder is linked to issues of mobility. For instance, a patient who cannot walk to the restroom can end up having incontinence.
  • Mixed incontinence. This type of incontinence, is caused by two or more factors.

Non-surgical, non-medication management of urine incontinence

This problem can be effectively managed in three ways.

  1. Kegel exercises. The main aim of these exercises is to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises have to be done properly and regularly to be effective. Initially, a trainer will be needed to help the woman identify the pelvic muscles called pubo-coccygeus (PC).  A simple way of identifying these muscles on your own is to try to hold when you feel like passing wind. Another option is to try to stop passing urine midstream. The muscles that enable you to do this are the pelvic floor muscles.

Kegel exercises are good for stress incontinence

  1. Bladder training. This involves planning micturition at set intervals. Initially, the intervals are short but the restroom trip frequency gradually increases. This helps the bladder to adapt to holding urine for longer periods without leaking.

Urinary urgency incontinence is the type that benefits most from this training.

  1. Kegel exercises and bladder training. This approach is used for the management of mixed type urinary incontinence.

When done properly, Kegel exercises and bladder training sessions can eliminate the need for surgery and medications. However, it is always important to confirm that there are no underlying health problems. If any, your doctor will recommend appropriate management.

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