Bladder And Bowel Incontinence
Incontinence is a loss of control of a person’s bowels or bladder which can cause accidental leakage of body fluids and waste. Incontinence can be more than a physical problem. It can disrupt your quality of life if its not managed well.
Fear, anxiety, and anger are common feelings for people dealing with incontinence. You may avoid being intimate or having sex because you are afraid of urine, gas, or stool leakage. Fear of having an accident may keep you from being physically active, enjoying hobbies, or spending extended time outside your home.
Anyone can have incontinence during and after surgery or some other treatments for cancer. Incontinence can also occur because of other non-cancer medical conditions. Be sure to talk to your health care team if you have difficulty controlling urination or bowels. Talking about incontinence can be embarrassing, but being open and honest with your health care team can help manage it.
Use The Right Absorbent Products
Coping with accidents is much easier if you use the right tools for the job.
Choices include panty liners, sanitary pads, absorbent adult briefs, and reusable garments with protective outer layers. Pads and panty liners might help if you have small, occasional leaks — but they may not always be enough.
Because the urine-holding capacity of each product can vary, you may have to try several products and brands before you find the right one for you.
Tips To Keep Your Bladder Healthy
People rarely talk about bladder health, but everyone is affected by it. Located in the lower abdomen, the bladder is a hollow organ, much like a balloon, that stores urine. Urine contains waste and extra fluid left over after the body takes what it needs from what we eat and drink. Each day, adults pass about a quart and a half of urine through the bladder and out of the body.
As people get older, the bladder changes. The elastic bladder tissue may toughen and become less stretchy. A less flexible bladder cannot hold as much urine as before and might make you go to the bathroom more often. The bladder wall and pelvic floor muscles may weaken, making it harder to empty the bladder fully and causing urine to leak.
While you cant control everything that affects your bladder, here are 15 steps you can take to keep it as healthy as possible:
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What Are The Signs That Something Is Wrong With Your Bladder
Common signs of bladder control issues include:
- Peeing more than you typically would. Most people pee on average seven times a day, but it may be as low as four or as high as 10 depending on how much you drink and if you drink fluids that make you pee more .
- Accidentally peeing or leaking pee during common activities. Common activities may include sneezing, coughing, exercise and sex.
- Leaking urine without feeling like you have to go. Your body might not tell you that you have to pee.
- Not being able to hold your pee. Your body might suddenly tell you that you have to pee, but you cant hold it in.
- Wetting your bed. Your body may not wake you up in the middle of the night to pee.
- Spinal cord damage symptoms. Symptoms may include feelings of weakness in your legs and numbness or lack of sensation in your genital area.
- Pressure or muscle spasms in your pelvic area. Pressure and an uncomfortable tightening of muscles around your bladder can make you suddenly have to pee.
What Is Overactive Bladder
The condition known as overactive bladder may or may not be associated with urge incontinence. OAB refers to sudden, uncontrollable bladder contractions. When these contractions are associated with leaks, urge incontinence is also present. OAB is disruptive because strong, frequent bladder contractions prompt numerous trips to the bathroom throughout the day and sometimes also at night. OAB can interfere with work, fitness, and social life. If you get up multiple times at night to urinate, OAB can also keep you from getting a good nights sleep.
A Common Problem
OAB is an extremely common disorder. Approximately 33% of people in the United States have OAB. An estimated 40% of women in the U.S. have the condition. Despite the fact that millions of people and a large percentage of women have OAB, it is not normal and you dont have to live with uncomfortable, limiting symptoms. There are treatments that can help.
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Kegel Exercises For Women
Strengthening pelvic floor muscles can reduce or even cure symptoms of stress incontinence. Kegel exercises target the muscles that control the flow of a stream of urine. You need to do the routine regularly to attain and maintain maximum benefit. Kegel exercises are easy to do it just takes a little practice to make sure youre concentrating your efforts on the right area.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
To perform Kegel exercises, contract the muscles you use to stop a stream of urine. Hold for 3 seconds and then release. Relax for 3 seconds. Work up to 3 sets of 10 Kegels. You can start performing these workouts while lying down. As you get stronger, you can do them while sitting or standing. If youre having trouble isolating the correct muscles, a doctor, nurse, or physical therapist can help you with your technique.
What Causes Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is not an inevitable result of aging, but it is particularly common in older people. It is often caused by specific changes in body function that may result from diseases, use of medications and/or the onset of an illness. Sometimes it is the first and only symptom of a urinary tract infection. Women are most likely to develop urinary incontinence during pregnancy and after childbirth, or after the hormonal changes of menopause.
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Drink Plenty Of Water
Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day unless your doctor advises you otherwise.
Many people with urinary incontinence avoid drinking fluids, as they feel it causes more problems. However, limiting your fluid intake makes incontinence worse, because it reduces your bladder’s capacity.
Not drinking enough fluid can also cause constipation or make it worse.
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How Can You Improve Postpartum Urinary Incontinence
Follow these tips to help with those leaks after childbirth:
- Do your Kegels. You’ve heard it before, but Kegel exercises are one of the best ways to strengthen your pelvic floor both during pregnancy and postpartum. Try to work up to three sets of 10 Kegel exercises a day, holding each squeeze for 10 seconds while standing.
- Train your bladder.Urinate every 30 minutes before you have the urge, in other words and then try to extend the time between bathroom trips each day. Over time, bladder training may help you work up to what’s considered more normal urination intervals, every three to four hours during the day and four to eight hours at night.
- Increase your fiber intake. This may help you avoid constipation after pregnancy, so full bowels don’t put added pressure on your bladder.
- Drink enough fluids. Although you should continue drinking at least eight glasses of fluids every day , you may find it helpful to limit fluid intake around bedtime if you experience incontinence during the night.
- Avoid coffee, citrus, tomatoes, soft drinks and alcohol. These beverages can irritate your bladder and make urine harder to control.
- Invest in postpartum pads. Pads can help absorb leaking urine .
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds can put added pressure on your bladder.
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How Does The Bladder Work
Your bladder is a round, muscular organ thats located above the pelvic bone. Its held in place by the pelvic muscles. A tube called the urethra allows urine to flow out of the bladder. The bladder muscle relaxes as your bladder fill with urine, while the sphincter muscles help to keep the bladder closed until youre ready to urinate.
Other systems of your body also help to control the bladder. Nerves from the bladder send signals to the brain when the bladder is full and then nerves from the brain signal the bladder when its ready to be emptied. All of these nerves and muscles must work together so that your bladder can function normally.
Who Is At Risk For Urinary Incontinence
In adults, you are at higher risk of developing UI if you:
- Are female, especially after going through pregnancy, childbirth, and/or menopause
- Are older. As you age, your urinary tract muscles weaken, making it harder to hold in urine.
- Are a man with prostate problems
- Have certain health problems, such as diabetes, obesity, or long-lasting constipation
- Have a birth defect that affects the structure of your urinary tract
In children, bedwetting is more common in younger children, boys, and those whose parents wet the bed when they were children.
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What Are The Treatments For Urinary Incontinence
Treatment depends on the type and cause of your UI. You may need a combination of treatments. Your provider may first suggest self-care treatments, including:
- Lifestyle changes to reduce leaks:
- Drinking the right amount of liquid at the right time
- Being physically active
- Staying at a healthy weigh
- Avoiding constipation
If these treatments do not work, your provider may suggest other options such as:
- Medicines, which can be used to
- Relax the bladder muscles, to help prevent bladder spasms
- Block nerve signals that cause urinary frequency and urgency
- In men, shrink the prostate and improve urine flow
Urinary Incontinence In Women: Causes And Treatment
Urinary incontinence is twice as common in women than in men, and its especially common in older women. Among women ages 65 and older, 4 in 10 experience some loss of bladder control.The three main types of urinary incontinence are:
- Stress urinary incontinence, when you experience leakage or loss of urine when you laugh, sneeze, run or make some other sudden movement
- Urge incontinence, when you have a frequent or sudden urge to urinate
- Mixed, in which women experience symptoms of both types
When either form of urinary incontinence affects your quality of life, seek a medical professionals help. Beaufort Memorial has a team of womens health specialists trained in the latest treatments for this medical condition.
Request an appointment with an OB-GYN or gynecologist.
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What Can You Expect At The Doctors Office
Your family doctor or OB/GYN may be able to help you find out what’s going on. Or they may refer you to a urologist — a doctor who specializes in urinary tract problems, or a urogynecologist — a specialist in pelvic floor disorders.
You’ll get a pelvic exam, and a test to see if there’s an infection. If so, treating the infection may help your incontinence problems.
Your doctor may want to check your bladder and pelvic floor. The tests you may have include:
Physical urine stress test. Your bladder is filled with water, then you’re asked to stand up and cough, or to walk to see if any urine leaks.
Bladder ultrasound. This painless imaging test lets a doctor see how fully your bladder empties.
Cystoscopy. This test looks inside your bladder. You’ll be given anesthesia so you won’t have any pain. After it takes effect, a doctor slides a long, thin, lighted tube with a lens into your urethra.
Urodynamic testing. This can check how well your bladder stores and releases urine. You’ll be asked to empty your bladder, and then a thin tube will be inserted through your urethra into your bladder to check for any remaining urine.
How Does Weight Loss Effect Urinary Leakage
Weight loss helps urinary leakage because losing weight in the abdominal area puts less pressure on the bladder.
The muscles arent having to do so much accessory work, so to speak, and theyre able to extend their energy supporting the pelvic floor and the bladder, rather than all of the additional pressure from excess weight, Dr. Crisp points out.
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Good Toilet Habits Help Prevent Incontinence
Good toilet habits can help to prevent bladder and bowel problems. Suggestions include:
- Go to the toilet to urinate only when your bladder is full. If you make a habit of trying to urinate just in case, youll teach your bladder to signal the urge to urinate when it isnt full.
- Take your time on the toilet. Allow urine to flow at its own speed .
- Go to the toilet when you feel the urge to pass a bowel motion. Hanging on can lead to constipation.
- Give yourself plenty of time to pass a bowel motion.
- Dont strain to open your bowels. Regular straining can cause problems including haemorrhoids , and can weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
- Use correct posture on the toilet . Put your feet on a footstool, place your elbows on your knees, bulge out your stomach and straighten your back.
- Treat laxatives as a short-term solution and work on treating constipation with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.
When To See A Health Care Provider And What To Expect
Talk to your health care provider if you have urinary incontinence or any signs of a bladder problem, such as:
- Needing to urinate more frequently or suddenly
- Urinating eight or more times in one day
- Passing only small amounts of urine after strong urges to urinate
- Trouble starting or having a weak stream while urinating
Your doctor may recommend urodynamic testing and perform the following to try to figure out what might be causing your bladder problem:
- Give you a physical exam and take your medical history.
- Ask about your symptoms and the medications you take.
- Take urine and blood samples.
- Examine the inside of your bladder using a cystoscope a long, thin tube that slides up into the bladder through the urethra. This is usually done by a urinary specialist.
- Fill the bladder with warm fluid and use a cystoscope to check how much fluid your bladder can hold before leaking.
- Order or perform a bladder ultrasound to see if you are fully emptying your bladder with each void.
- Ask you to keep a daily diary of when you urinate and when you leak urine. Your primary care doctor may also send you to a urologist, a doctor who specializes in urinary tract problems.
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Fast Facts On Urinary Incontinence
- Urinary incontinence is more common in females than in males.
- There are a number of reasons why urinary incontinence can occur.
- Obesity and smoking are both risk factors for urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence is when a person cannot prevent urine from leaking out.
It can be due to stress factors, such as coughing, it can happen during and after pregnancy, and it is more common with conditions such as obesity.
The chances of it happening increase with age.
Bladder control and pelvic floor, or Kegel, exercises can help prevent or reduce it.
Treatment will depend on several factors, such as the type of incontinence, the patients age, general health, and their mental state.
Do Regular Kegel Exercises
Once you find your pelvic floor muscles, you can complete regular Kegel exercises to strengthen them. Simply contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold them for five to ten seconds, and relax them. The Urology Care Foundation suggests that you complete at least two sessions of Kegel exercises per day. Up to 30 contractions per session.
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According to the Urology Care Foundation, women are at greater risk for UI than men because they have a shorter urethra than men. As a result, any weakness or damage to the urethra in a woman is more likely to cause urinary incontinence. This is because there is less muscle keeping the urine in your bladder until you are ready to urinate.
What Can I Do To Prevent Bladder Problems After Birth
There are some simple steps you can take during pregnancy to help prevent incontinence.
- Drink 6 to 8 cups of fluid a day, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Avoid drinks containing sugar or caffeine, as these can irritate the bladder.
- Eat a high fibre diet with 2 pieces of fruit, 5 serves of vegetables and 5 serves of cereals/bread per day.
- Make sure you have a healthy weight.
- excessive twisting and turning activities
- exercises that require you to hold your breath
- exercises that require sudden changes of direction or intensity
- exercises that make you use one leg more than the other, or lifting your hip while you are on your hands or knees
- exercises that involve standing on one leg for a period of time
- activities involving sudden changes in intensity
- exercises that increase the curve in your lower back
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