Anti aging guide

Urinary Incontinence Affecting Older People



How to manage urinary incontinence which commonly affects women

Urinary incontinence means an involuntary leaking of urine, which can happen at any time, not only just after urination. It is a very common problem which affects mainly women, though men can also be affected, especially if they have prostate problems or infections.

Most sufferers are too embarrassed to ask their doctor for advice, while others think that leaking a bit of urine is a normal sign of aging. Research shows that a staggering 75 to 80 per cent of sufferers are not keen to discuss this problem with their partner. Yes, their partner, let alone their doctor or nurse.

The problem can affect people of any age but it becomes more common after the age of 40. In women it may be related to previous trauma to the urethra during pregnancy, or in both men and women it may be due to infections or to urogenital aging – the changes which accompany the menopause.

Traditionally, urinary incontinence has been divided into three different forms:

  1. Stress incontinence, the leaking of urine during coughing, laughing, sneezing or jumping.
  2. Urge incontinence, also called ‘unstable bladder’. This is an urgent feeling of wanting to go to the toilet without managing it in time, with loss of urine on the way there. This is due to a disturbance of the nerve signals which tell the bladder when to empty.
  3. Dribble incontinence, which is when the bladder doesn’t empty completely and the leftover urine leaks afterward (leaking only one or two drops after urination isn’t usually a cause for concern).

Dribble incontinence may happen when there is an obstruction of the bladder such as an enlarged prostate, constipation or a tumor.

These different types of incontinence may co-exist, making it difficult to establish exactly which type the patient suffers from.

Women who smoke are 30 per cent more likely to suffer from urinary incontinence than non-smokers. Also, smoker’s cough makes matters worse by putting pressure on the bladder and causing leaking of urine.

Special easy-to-perform exercises may be used in order to strengthen the muscles around the bladder. Bladder training aims to increase the capacity of the bladder so that it can hold more urine for longer. Time yourself and try, if you can, to empty your bladder every four hours and not as soon as you feel the urge to go.

The traditional advice to stop yourself midstream and then start again has been criticized as interfering with the normal emptying mechanisms of the bladder and is not recommended by some authorities. Prescription drugs for incontinence are becoming more effective and have fewer side effects nowadays. The drugs aim to improve the muscle strength of the bladder or to regulate the nerves which tell the bladder when to empty. Injection of collagen-supporting material into the muscles of the bladder has been tried with some success and research of this technique is continuing.

Intermittent catheterization is a special technique using a plastic urinary catheter which the patient inserts in their urethra to drain the urine. This may be used a few times a day. The catheter is removed each time.

As you can see, there are several treatments for incontinence, but you must first see your doctor to discuss which one is the best for you. Don’t leave matters too late and don’t suffer in silence – it’s completely unnecessary.

Five ways to reduce the effects of incontinence

  1. Try regular exercises of the bladder.
  2. Avoid smoking, alcohol and too much coffee.
  3. Follow a high fiber diet to reduce the effects of constipation.
  4. Discuss it with your doctor if you are taking any diuretics (water tablets) or nutritional supplements.
  5. Try complementary treatments: cypress oil or horsetail, the homeopathic remedy pulsatilla, and biofeedback to retrain the muscles which control the bladder.


Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 24, 2012 at 3:40 am