7 burning questions about urinary incontinence

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Incontinence can be embarrassing but understanding it better can help.
Incontinence can be embarrassing but understanding it better can help.

Urinary incontinence occurs when the muscles in the bladder that control the flow of urine involuntarily relax, resulting in leakage or uncontrollable urination.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 200 million people worldwide suffer from bladder control problems.

Have you ever thought about using Botox or training your bladder to combat incontinence? 

Here are a few answers to some of your most pressing questions on the matter:

1. What causes incontinence? 

Incontinence is not a disease, but a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It varies from temporary, caused by factors such as constipation or vaginal infection, to chronic. There are a number of causes of incontinence.

Certain substances foods and drinks:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol 
  • Chocolate
  • Carbonated drinks 

Treatable medical conditions:

Chronic conditions: 


2. Are pregnant women prone to developing incontinence? 

Not all women have incontinence following delivery. However, pregnancy can definitely predispose you to urinary incontinence, especially in the case of vaginal delivery. Pregnancy can interfere with the normal way your urethra contracts and relaxes. Stress incontinence can happen in pregnant women as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy, as well as pressure on the bladder. 

3. How is incontinence treated?

The treatment of incontinence differs depending on the cause and degree of the problem. 

For stress incontinence, non-medical treatment includes:

These types of treatments are for less serious cases of incontinence. They are beneficial in the short term but might not provide long-term relief. 

Medical treatment includes:

Surgical treatment: 

4. What about Botox?

In small amounts, Botox can be beneficial for the treatment of an overactive bladder. The procedure involves the injection of Botox through a small scope which is then inserted into the urethra, the tube leading to the bladder. 

5. Is incontinence a problem associated with diabetes? 

While incontinence may present in a diabetic patient, it is not necessarily an associated symptom. Diabetics tend to have decreased bladder emptying and are subsequently prone to both urge and overflow incontinence. A complete evaluation therefore needs to be done prior to treatment.

6. Can the bladder be retrained? 

Bladder training can be a very effective way to treat urinary incontinence. This happens by training your bladder to void according to a specific schedule. This entails going to the bathroom even if you do not have to and not going to the bathroom even if you need to. Wait for the scheduled time for bathroom trips. Kegel exercises can be beneficial while training your bladder. Unsure on how to effectively train your bladder? Here are some tips.

7. Are adult diapers effective? 

There is nothing wrong with wearing an adult diaper to effectively deal with incontinence; they have helped many individuals who struggle with incontinence. Since these diapers are made for adults, the padding is thicker and the lining stronger. Varieties of disposable diapers include super-absorbent, ultra-absorbent and regular. Choose a style that is suited to your condition; there are many options with various focuses. 

In a recent study, the taboos surrounding use of adult diapers are explored. According to one of the researchers, "The major challenge hampering growth is the social taboo and dignity issues around the use among adults. However, initiatives by big adult diaper brands to dignify the market and spread awareness regarding the necessity of the product through elaborate advertisements and promotion campaigns are helping the product overcome the social barrier."

Image credit: iStock

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