Do you or someone you love suffer from any form of adult incontinence? If you answer with ‘yes’ to this question, it is important for you to get all the information you can find to manage this medical problem effectively. Incontinence is a debilitating medical problem characterized by uncontrolled loss of urine or fecal matter. Today, millions of adult Americans show symptoms of urinary and fecal incontinence. However, many of them hesitate to come forward and seek help. The American Urological Association (AUA) says a quarter of adult Americans suffer from urinary incontinence. This fact highlights how grave the situation is today. Although this problem is one that requires urgent attention, the stigma associated with the symptoms of incontinence forces many people to suffer silently. One of the best ways to deal with incontinence among adults effectively is by providing helpful information about the problem and suggesting ways to manage it. In this regard, this article addresses the symptoms, causes, and treatment of incontinence in adults.
Symptoms of Incontinence in Adults
Every type of incontinence in adults has one common symptom. There is an uncontrolled loss of urine but it is the quantity and the underlying cause that differs in one type of incontinence to the other. Some adults experience minor leaks while others lose urine frequently. The case is also the same in the loss of bowel control. There are various types of incontinence and each has unique symptoms.
1. Stress Incontinence
This is the most common form of urinary incontinence, characterized by a sudden loss of urine when bladder muscles come under sudden physical pressure. For instance, stress incontinence occurs when laughing, exercising, coughing, sneezing, or lifting something heavy.
2. Urge Incontinence
Also commonly known as reflex incontinence or “overactive bladder”, and occurs due to involuntary contraction of the muscular wall of the bladder leading to a sudden urge to urinate. Different situations can lead to this urge including a sudden change in position, sound of running water or sex, especially during orgasm.
3. Overflow Incontinence
When the bladder does not empty completely, you experience frequent or constant dribbling of urine. This problem is common with men who suffer from a damaged bladder, prostate gland problems or a blocked urethra. Now that the bladder cannot hold the volume of urine the body makes, it leads to a leak of small amounts of urine.
4. Mixed Incontinence
This is a situation where an individual suffers more than one type of urinary incontinence.
5. Functional Incontinence
When a person suffers a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from accessing a washroom in time, there is a likelihood of the loss of urine. Conditions such as arthritis, poor eyesight, dementia, depression, and anxiety can cause functional incontinence.
Causes of Incontinence in Adults
It is important to understand that all forms of incontinence point to an underlying problem. They are symptoms of a more serious issue and it is thus important to learn about the possible causes of your medical problems. The main causes of urinary incontinence include:
Pregnancy: This period in a woman’s life comes with hormonal and physical changes in their body that could increase the chances of stress incontinence.
Childbirth/Vaginal delivery: This can weaken muscles around the bladder and also damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue. The result is a dropped (prolapsed) pelvic floor and all these changes increase the chances of incontinence.
Old age: Incontinence among adults has always been attributed to old age, due to decreased bladder capacity with age and aging of bladder muscles.
Menopause: Hormonal changes during menopause also cause incontinence. The reduced production of estrogen, a hormone that maintains a healthy lining of the bladder and urethra, can cause an involuntary loss of urine.
Hysterectomy: Any surgical procedure around a woman’s reproductive system, including the removal of the uterus, can damage pelvic floor muscles leading to incontinence.
Prostate problems in men: Enlargement of the prostate gland and untreated prostate cancer can lead to stress incontinence or urge incontinence in men.
Some risk factors that you should know about include:
i. Being overweight/ obese
iii. Diseases such as Neurological disease or diabetes
iv. Old age
v. Gender; 75% – 80% of adults suffering from incontinence are women.
Diagnosis and Treatment
With this insight, it is easier to understand the condition in which incontinence occurs, and to seek ways to treat and manage it. You need to see a doctor to get a diagnosis if you notice problems with your bladder or bowel. Some of the techniques used for diagnosing urinary incontinence include:
- A bladder diary
- Blood test
- Stress test to diagnose stress incontinence
- Physical exam around the vagina to test the strength of the pelvic floor muscles and around the rectum in men for
- signs of prostate gland problems
- Pelvic ultrasound to detect any anomalies in the bladder
- Cystoscopy to detect abnormalities in the urinary tract
- Postvoid residual (PVR) measurement to measure the quantity of urine left in the bladder
- Urinalysis to identify any signs of infection and abnormalities
- Cystogram / X-ray to evaluate the condition of the bladder
Some of the techniques used for the treatment and management of urinary and fecal incontinence include:
i. Pelvic floor exercises: These include Kegel exercises to strengthen muscles that help control urination.
ii. Use of incontinence protection: Incontinence products such as adult diapers, pull-up underwear and briefs help control and manage the symptoms of incontinence. Wearing this type of protection can help you to enjoy a life without limits.
iii. Bladder training techniques: They include delaying the event, double voiding and creating a toilet timetable.
iv. Medication: Some medicines prescribed to treat urinary incontinence include Anticholinergics to calm overactive bladders, Oxybutynin (Ditropan), and tamsulosin (Flomax), mirabegron (Myrbetriq) relax overactive bladder muscles, Imipramine (Tofranil) and Topical estrogen to strengthen weakened tissues in the urethra and vagina among others.
v. Pessaries and urethral inserts: Urethral inserts fit inside the urethra to prevent leaking. Pessaries are inserted inside the vagina to prop up the bladder to treat stress incontinence.
vi. Botulinum toxin type A (Botox): Injected into the bladder muscle, causing it to relax and in turn increase the bladder’s storage capacity for urine.
vii. Nerve stimulators: For people suffering from severe urge incontinence; a stimulator sends electrical pulses to the muscles around the bladder.
viii. Surgical procedures: Your doctor can also recommend surgical procedures when other options do not work. They include the sling procedure to support the urethra, Colposuspension to lift the neck of the bladder and relieve stress incontinence and insertion of an artificial sphincter, or valve to control the flow of urine.
Other ways to prevent adult incontinence include losing weight, dietary changes to avoid bladder irritants, such as avoiding acidic foods, caffeine, and alcohol, an increase in the intake of fiber to reduce constipation, which causes urinary incontinence and stopping smoking. If you suffer from any form of incontinence, you can use this information to regain control of your life. Order your Free Sample from Wellnes Briefs.