INCONTINENCE: Loss of bladder control, better known as incontinence, affects at least one in ten people over the age of 65, but 50% of the incontinent population is under 55. The inability to control one's bladder often results in embarrassment. Consumer education and/or understanding the symptoms and causes will help a person get the proper treatment. Different categories of incontinence have varying causes, and somewhat different symptoms. A large selection of products are designed for the comfort and dignity of persons suffering from incontinence.
Although some kinds of incontinence are temporary, other types are prolonged. Causes of incontinence vary from muscle deterioration to age, illness, diabetes, and heart conditions, to factors such as urinary tract infection or stress.
There are five that can be separated into categories:
This is a sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate. Causes of urge incontinence are bladder infections, kidney and bladder stones, local tumors, stroke, mental deterioration or weakness in the bladder itself.
This is the most common type of incontinence. It is involuntary urination during activities that put stress or pressure on the bladder. Laughing, exercise, sneezing or coughing are all factors. This type is more predominant in women and often experienced after childbirth.
This is complete involuntary loss of bladder control due to failure in the bladder muscles. One urinates without any sensation of a full bladder. This is the least common of the five types.
This condition usually occurs when there is an obstruction to the outflow of urine. The bladder is constantly filled and is severely swollen which causes some urine to dribble out. In men, blockage of the urethra from an enlarged prostate gland, is one of the common causes of overflow incontinence.
The urinary system is working properly, but the person is unable to move quickly enough to get to the bathroom.
UNDERSTANDING THE URINARY SYSTEM
Urine is produced by the kidneys and flows down two tubes, called the ureters, to the bladder, where it is collected from the body. Urine moves from the bladder down another tube called the urethra, which is much shorter in women than in men. This may be one reason why women experience bladder control problems more frequently. The sphincter muscles surrounding the urethra control urine flow from the body. Urination depends on learned behaviour and on reflexes in the spinal cord and brain. The behaviour is learned when we are toilet trained as children. The reflex is triggered by a physical sense of urgency as urine collects in the bladder and pressure builds up. In most people, this sense of urgency is felt when the bladder contains about 5 ounces, although it can accommodate 17 ounces or more. Learned behaviour tells us to find the toilet-, the spinal cord and reflexes take over; the bladder contracts; the sphincter muscles relax; and a stream of urine is released from the body via the urethra.
HELPFUL HINTS FOR MANAGING INCONTINENCE
• Exercising and keeping your weight down.
• Avoiding drinks that cause urination more than others, such as coffee and alcohol.
• Drinking before bedtime also increases bladder urination. You should not drink anything up to three hours before bedtime.
• Bladder control exercises will strengthen the bladder muscles. Ask your doctor.