December 2nd, 2014
Inability to hold urine despite voluntary effort or leakage of urine before you reach the toilet is clinically defined as urinary incontinence. The severity of symptoms vary significantly, depending upon the cause, severity and associated symptoms.
Urinary incontinence is more common in females. According to a new study (1), about 30 to 51% females reported at least one episode of UI in the past 1 year. The prevalence in adult nulligravida (who never became pregnant) females is about 12.5% (2).
Urinary incontinence is a recognized urinary condition that compromises the quality of life by interfering with social, professional and personal interactions. The symptoms of urinary incontinence are dependent on the clinical variety of incontinence; most frequently reported types are:
The urinary sphincters serves as ‘one-way valve’ that are under the strict voluntary control in normal healthy adults. However, in some individuals the valves are less competent at holding the urine in situations of stress (mostly physical). For example, any activity that increases the intra-abdominal pressure significantly (and abruptly) can worsen this type of incontinence; such as:
This type of urinary incontinence is more common in individuals who are at extremes of age (very young or very old). The primary pathophysiology is weakness of muscles and lack of neuro-urinary regulation due to:
It is characterized by persistent or frequent urinary leakage due to incomplete voiding of bladder. Certain drugs can worsen this type of incontinence; for example muscle relaxants, sedatives, anti-psychotics, anti-hypertensive drugs etc. Other common causes of overflow incontinence are:
Urge incontinence refers to an intense urge to micturate due to hypersensitivity of the bladder. Often times the urge to micturate is followed by involuntary dribbling of urine. This type of incontinence worsens if the person is suffering from an acute urinary tract infection or constipation. Other associated symptoms are:
Aggravating factors include, consumption of bladder irritants (like alcoholic drinks, caffeinated beverages etc.), aerated or carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, toxic doses of vitamin C or Vitamin B -complex etc.
Any functional illness (extra-urinary) that affects your capacity to reach the toilet in time is referred to as functional incontinence. This includes:
If one or more of the clinical types of urinary incontinence co-exists, the condition is referred to as mixed incontinence.
Certain physiological factors like advanced aging can lead to laxity of bladder muscles and can increase the risk of urinary incontinence significantly in individuals. Other relevant risk factors include:
Urinary incontinence is not only an embarrassing condition but can also increase the risk of several complications over time in poorly managed cases. A few frequently reported ones are:
It is highly recommended to speak to your primary healthcare professional to learn more about the cause and management protocols of urinary incontinence symptoms to live a healthy and functional lifestyle.
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