Incontinence is inconvenient to say the least. More common in women than men, there are many differences causes. Stress incontinence and urge incontinent are the two most common types, with most cases quite easily treatable.
Although incontinence can develop at any age, it is most common in older women. About four in every 100 women suffer from incontinency, with the different types being:
- Urge incontinence – the feeling of having an urgent want to go to the toilet and pass urine. Sometimes the bladder can be contracting out of control, resulting in urine being assed before you actually make it to the toilet. It seems that in this case, the bladder gives wrong signals to the brain, suggesting it is full up when it’s not.
- Stress incontinence– one of the most common caused in the UK. Stress incontinence is when something like a cough, sneeze or laugh makes you pass urine. This usually occurs because the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder become weakened. This is why incontinence is more common in older women, as the older we get, the more weakened our bladder can become.
- Mixed incontinence– this is a more serious case of incontinence, combining both of the above types. Someone with mixed incontinence generally finds themselves passing urine extremely easily, and not being able to hold it in.
Urinary incontinent is normally first assessed, followed by treatment, if needed. Assessment involves a urinalysis, which is when a dipstick checks to see if the urine is infected in any way. This is normally followed by the residual urine test, which checks to see if any urine, and how much urine, is left in your bladder after you’ve gone to the toilet so see if the bladder is emptying itself enough. A vaginal and anal examination can be the next step, to assess the strength and tone of the pelvic floor muscles. Finally, a urodynamics test is used to test the flow of the urine.
Incontinence can be treated in a couple of different ways, such as strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, to makes the wall of your bladder stronger; and lifestyle changes such as drinking more water and losing weight. If these treatments don’t rid you of the problem, or at the very least improve it, you may need to wear incontinence pads, to help you live with the fact of being incontinent.