Knowing and living with Incontinence

Did you know, over 25 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence. With an issue that’s so common, there is little visibility around the term - ‘incontinence’.

What is incontinence?

Simply put, urinary incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine. It is a temporary or recurrent loss of bladder control, is common and can affect anyone, irrespective of age, gender and body type. Although this is predominantly seen in seniors, new mothers, veterans or athletes, patients with spinal deformities, it is important to understand bladder health is unique to every person.

Understanding your incontinence type

With over four kinds of incontinence identified, the most common types are the following:

Overactive bladder (OAB)

If you feel an urgent need to go the bathroom with little warning in advance. Often, it is hard to control the urge and leakage occurs. This is a symptom of incontinence. Irrespective of age or gender, most people affected, seek medical attention to help manage the condition better.

Urinary retention

In this case, it is hard to induce urination. A person showing symptoms of urinary retention often feels the need to go several times because the bladder hasn’t fully emptied. Together with a weak flow, this can cause severe pain and inconvenience.

Stress incontinence

Most people have urine leakage when they laugh, jump or cough. The smallest physical exertion can increase abdominal pressure that results in bladder pressure. This can happen even if bladder muscles are not contracting and the person has no urge to urinate. Contributing factors like age, estrogen levels in women or urinary sphincter damage from prostate surgery or a pelvic failure can cause stress incontinence.

Mixed incontinence

When a person has symptoms of both - an overactive bladder and stress incontinence, it is mixed incontinence.This is more common in women and seniors of all genders.

I think I know what I have. Where do I get started?

Now that you had a fair idea of what type of incontinence you might have, it is important to know that managing incontinence is not impossible. The National Association for Continence has published a great resource that helps you plan your steps to better incontinence management.

Knowledge is key, but always seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

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