Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects men, women and the elderly. It is defined as the unintentional passing of urine from the bladder, which may be an occasional small dribble or a large flood. It is thought that urinary incontinence affects up to 37 per cent of Australian adult women and 13 per cent of Australian adult men. Although it is a common problem, most sufferers do not seek help but we’ve got the lowdown on incontinence and ways to help you laugh again.
There are three different types of urinary incontinence.
Stress incontinence occurs during physical activity such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, heavy lifting and exercise. This is often due to weak pelvic floor muscles and is most common in women, especially those that have given birth, been through menopause, had a hysterectomy or are obese.
Urge incontinence is a sudden urge to urinate, which may lead to only a few drops or a large of amount of urine being released from the bladder. This may also cause a person to urinate frequently. It is sometimes described as an overactive bladder and is thought to occur due to incorrect signals between the brain and the bladder.
Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder is full but does not empty properly and this is often caused by an obstruction to the outflow of urine from the bladder. The most common cause of this is an enlarged prostate in men. As the bladder does not empty completely there is a need to pass urine often.
There are several different treatment options for urinary incontinence, but it is always best to consult your doctor for a correct diagnosis.
Stress incontinence is initially treated with lifestyle changes such as reducing caffeine intake, losing weight (if obese) and doing pelvic floor exercises. If this does not help your doctor may refer you to a specialist.
Urge incontinence is also initially treated with lifestyle changes as above. Fluid management and bladder training may also help, but if needed your doctor can prescribe medication that will assist in less frequent urination.
Overflow incontinence treatment in men involves treating the enlarged prostate. This can be done using medication and/ or surgery.
Your National Pharmacies pharmacist can assist you with recommending urinary incontinence aids, such as the correct incontinence pads. It is also worth reviewing your medications in-store as some may cause or worsen urinary incontinence.
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