6 eye-opening myths and facts about urinary incontinence
Contributed by: Rachana Arya
In a world full of misinformation, myths about urinary incontinence are a dozen. Urinary incontinence – the clinical term for uncontrollable loss of urine – is far more common than most people would expect. Although there are many treatment options for this condition, at least half of people with urinary incontinence do not discuss their condition with their doctor. You don’t need to be ashamed, however. You are not alone with a leaky bladder. Urinary incontinence, often known as bladder loss, affects women and men of all ages, but is more common in later life.
Types of urinary incontinence
- Stress incontinence: Leaking urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, or laughing is a tell-tale indicator of stress incontinence. This type of incontinence is unrelated to feeling stressed. It is more common in women and is caused by weaker pelvic floor muscles.
- Urge incontinenceUrgency or urge incontinence is when you have a very strong urge to urinate without warning and you cannot postpone going to the toilet. An overactive bladder can trigger this type of incontinence.
- Overflow incontinence: Also known as chronic urinary retention, when the bladder cannot be completely emptied while urinating. This causes the bladder to swell beyond its normal size. Neurological disease, diabetes, and certain medications can all trigger this type of incontinence.
- Functional incontinence: This is caused by mobility issues rather than urine control concerns preventing a person from getting to the bathroom on time
- Mixed incontinence: These arises as a result of a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence. For example, you may lose urine when you cough or sneeze, and may also have strong impulses to urinate.
Urinary incontinence is more than just a nuisance; it has an impact on the quality of life and it is important that you receive the treatment you need. Regardless of the type of incontinence you have, most cases can either be cured or significantly improved.
Myth # 1: Urinary incontinence is an inevitable component of aging
Even if age can play a role in the development of urinary incontinence, this does not mean that urinary leakage is an inevitable nuisance. Our bodies and tissues become weaker how we age, but urinary incontinence should never be considered normal.
Myth # 2: Urinary incontinence treatment options are limited or nonexistent
Most people believe that there are no treatments for urinary incontinence. And they’re very, very wrong. While urinary incontinence is very common in women (50% of all women will have a UI at some point in their life), one of the biggest misconceptions and reasons women don’t see their doctors is that they don’t know about treatment options. In fact, there are numerous treatment options for urinary incontinence, but the best one for you will depend on the type of incontinence you have.
Myth # 3: The only real cure for urinary incontinence is surgery
You and your doctor can determine if and when surgery is right for you once you’ve made the correct diagnosis. Many of these surgeries have positive results and do not require hospitalization. Many people hesitate to talk about their incontinence because they assume that superinvasive surgery is the only way to deal with the problem.
However, there are a variety of non-surgical treatment options such as Behavioral treatments, lifestyle changes, exercise, and new technologies that can be used to treat incontinence. There are also drugs available to treat some types of urinary incontinence, but it is one of the most effective treatments for stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Myth # 4: Restricting fluid intake helps with urinary incontinence
However, while restricting your fluid and water intake may appear to minimize your urge to urinate, it will result in more concentrated urine, which will irritate the bladder and even make the problem worse. Because urinary incontinence can affect a person’s quality of life so much, some people try to avoid drinking fluids to reduce the need to use the toilet.
Urinary incontinence patients should drink a constant amount of fluid throughout the day to keep their body and bladder hydrated, but not too much that their bladder cannot tolerate. What you drink is also important. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided in excess as they can irritate the bladder and worsen symptoms.
Myth # 5: A small bladder causes urinary incontinence
While it may appear that way, urinary incontinence isn’t caused by the size of your bladder. It’s not the size of the bladder that matters, but how the muscles and nerves of the bladder control and release urine over time. A urogynecologist or urologist who specializes in pelvic floor problems and women’s health can help women determine the cause of their urinary incontinence so they can receive appropriate therapy and regain their quality of life.
Myth # 6: Urinary incontinence is irreversible
Perhaps the most popular myth about this condition is that it is inevitable and irreversible. Incontinence is a sign of a health problem, not a disease in itself. It could be caused by a temporary condition like infection. Antibiotics are used for treatment and the incontinence disappears. Even if it’s due to a long-term illness like diabetes, there are exercise, diet changes, equipment, medication, and surgery that can treat the disease as well as your bladder.
Urinary incontinence can often be greatly improved or completely reversed with thorough examination and treatment. Clinicians are increasingly recognizing the combination of alternatives as the most effective treatment.
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