Let us speak honestly about urinary incontinence…
Urinary incontinence is not an illness but a symptom. It can be treated and even totally cured. This problem affects 500,000 people in Hungary.
According to research estimates, 30% of the female population above the age of 30 has already had so-called incontinence episodes in their lives or has been affected to a certain extent. This percentage is increasing with age and an increase in the severity of the cases can also be observed.
There can be varied causes behind these symptoms originating from physical or mental sources. Affected people are usually not clear about the roots of their problems, may be shy about their condition and are often experimenting with „home-made” solutions. In half of the cases, they do not even turn to a medical practitioner. They tend to think that above a certain age this phenomenon is „normal”.
Whatever the degree of incontinence is, it destroys the quality of life of affected patients and hinders routine lifestyle. Everyday activities, including commuting to work, shopping, sexual intercourse, and entertainment can become difficult or impossible. The risk of isolation increases at the same time: an affected person tends to avoid going out due to their fear that someone else might notice their problem. Often this leads to disturbance in self-evaluation, losing self-esteem and developing depression.
Using sanitary towels cannot be the final solution. These are not only expensive, but at the same time not odour-free, can be visible and can lead to inflammation on the skin.
The first and most important step is to ask for help from a medical practitioner. When analysing the causes of incontinence, the solution to cure is often in our hands. In some cases the cause is reversible, and thus incontinence can be be cured by abolishing the causal factor.
Examples of this include inflammation, certain types of illnesses of the intestines, coughing, overweight, constipation, and taking medicines that have a harmful impact on the functioning of the bladder.
In other cases, anatomic deformities or disorders of the femail pelvic floor are the underlying causes.
Incontinence may take the following forms:
- Stress incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- Mixed incontinence (a combination of the two above)
The reason for stress incontinence is the inadequate closing mechanism in the urethra. With this type, urine leaks due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and tissues. It can happen when pressure on your bladder, such as when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or exercise. The urethra is not able to hold the urine in this case.
Pregnancy and vaginal childbirth can stretch and weaken a woman’s pelvic floor muscles. Overweight can also lead to stress incontinence.
It can be treated by abolishing root causes, enhancing tissue flexibility and increasing muscle strength. In practice, the latter means strengthening pelvic floor muscles, i.e. pelvic floor musculature training. If these so-called conservative therapies do not produce adequate results, surgery is also available. Your specialist medical practitioner will advise you on the most appropriate treatment.
With this type, one has an urgent need to go to the bathroom and may not get there in time.
Even if the closing muscle functions well, it may happen that one cannot keep the urine until they get to the toilet. It can be characerised by frequent need to lose urine witin short periods of time, including waking up during the night. The bladder cannot function with its full capacity in this case. Affected people go to the toilet 10-20 times per day and pay particular attention that there is a toilet nearby. This significantly impacts quality of life in the long run.
Causes include an increased sensitivity of the bladder wall and mucous membrane.
Prevention includes decreasing the consumptioin of irritative substances (e.g. strong spices, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine) that concentrate in the bladder. If symptoms are persistent, treatment with medicines is an option. Recently a new medicine has reached the market in Hungary that has a calming impact on the bladder and thus decreases its sensitivity. By taking this medicine regularly, waking up at nights will decrease and one can hold their urine for a longer time. Related distress and dependence on toilets cease to exist.
Advice to prevent or reduce urinary incontinence disorders
In some cases, symptoms can disappear if one changes their life style as follows:
- Depening on liquid consumption, attempt to go to the toilet every second or third hour.
- Do pelvic floor musculature training.
- Avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks that irritates the bladder.
- Drink at least 2 liters of liquids par day that helps prevent bladder irritation caused by urine concentration.
- Decrease your body weight.
- Avoid lifting heavy things.
- Do exercise regularly.
- Do not sit on cold surfaces.
- If there is a strong urinary stimulus, do not run as it can increase the pressure on the bladder.
The way out is to consult an incontinence specialist medical practitioner
You can see my video on this topic at the link below (available in Hungarian only):
If the advice above does not help, it is worth consulting a medical practitioner specializing in treating incontinence.
Please feel free to turn to me for help. Following thorough medical examination, I aim to provide my Patients with a full analysis of causes and suggest appropriate treatment.