According to Dr Richard Nahas, urinary incontinence is more common in the elderly, especially women. However, it can happen to people of all ages and genders due to a variety of reasons such as vaginal irritation or infection, urinary tract infections, constipation, and more. Long-term urinary incontinence can indicate serious health problems such as pelvic organ prolapse, enlarged prostate gland, damage to the nerves that control the bladder, and diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and more.
Here are a few reasons why you should discuss incontinence with your doctor:
1. They can help diagnose the type of incontinence –
Urinary incontinence can be categorized into the following types:
- Functional incontinence – This is common in older people with normal bladder control but problems such as arthritis that prevent them from reaching the toilet on time.
- Stress incontinence – It is common in middle-aged and younger women who leak urine during coughing, exercise, lifting heavy objects, and laughing when their bladder is put under pressure.
- Overflow incontinence – This is common in men with an enlarged prostate that is blocking the urethra which causes small amounts of urine to leak when the bladder is full.
- Urge incontinence – This is common in people who suddenly have the urge to urinate but cannot hold it long enough to go to the toilet.
2. They can provide you with solutions for managing urinary incontinence –
Making certain lifestyle or behavioural changes such as quitting alcohol, smoking, and losing weight can help with bladder problems. Urinary incontinence can also be managed by practicing the following bladder control training exercises:
- Urgency suppression – This involves practices such as taking long relaxing breaths, squeezing the pelvic floor muscles, and holding still when you feel the urge to urinate to control those urges until you get to the toilet.
- Pelvic muscle exercise – It involves practising Kegel exercises which help to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. As a result, it helps to hold the urine for longer and avoid leaks.
- Timed voiding – This practice involves scheduling the time when you have to urinate.
3. They can treat the problem if it cannot be managed –
If you cannot manage or control urinary incontinence through bladder control exercises or by making lifestyle and behavioural changes, you can opt for surgery to shift the position of the bladder or remove blockages.
Alternatively, your doctor may recommend certain medications to control overactive bladder, vaginal estrogen cream to relieve urge or stress incontinence, or help you regain control over the muscles in the bladder and urethra using biofeedback.
Dr Richard Nahas suggests you don’t feel embarrassed to talk about incontinence or any signs of bladder problems with your doctor. Urinary incontinence is not that difficult to treat when the reason is diagnosed properly. In many cases, you simply have to perform bladder control training and can avoid taking any medications. And it can uncover other diseases in the process while the opposite is true if you try to hide the issue.