If you’ve ever had to change your underwear after a coughing fit or laughing too hard, you may have a condition called urinary incontinence. It can also cause the inability to make it to the bathroom on time. Urinary incontinence is the inability to hold your bladder.
Although urinary incontinence is common — especially among women who have given birth — it isn’t an inevitable fact of aging. It’s certainly a disruptive part of your life, but you don’t have to live with it anymore. Dr. Daniel Esteves explains more about how he can help treat your urinary incontinence.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the inability to hold your bladder, strictly speaking, but this can mean several different things. It may be that you leak urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze, or it may mean that you can’t make it to the bathroom on time when you feel the urge.
Urinary incontinence generally falls into three different types: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when you put pressure on your bladder, either by laughing, coughing, sneezing, or even lifting something too heavy.
Urge incontinence happens when you feel a sudden urge to urinate, even during the middle of the night. You may leak urine or completely lose the ability to hold your bladder. It may be caused by something minor like an infection or something more serious like diabetes or a neurological condition.
Overflow incontinence occurs when you can’t empty your bladder completely, which leads to frequent or constant dribbling of urine.
Causes of urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence is more common when you get older, but it shouldn’t be considered a normal part of aging. Some of the most common causes of urinary incontinence include:
Pelvic floor disorder
The most common cause of urinary incontinence, especially among women who have given birth to children, is pelvic floor disorder, which occurs when the muscles of your pelvic floor become weak and it can happen to men or women.
Think of your pelvic floor as the support structure that keeps all of your pelvic muscles in place, which includes the function of your bladder and your bowels. You may suspect that you have a pelvic floor disorder if in addition to urinary leakage, you also experience constipation and difficulty having bowel movements and may feel pain in your lower back.
Consuming certain foods and drinks
Certain foods and drinks can have an irritating effect on your bladder, which can worsen urinary incontinence. Among the foods and drinks to limit include:
- Sparkling water or carbonated beverages
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chili peppers and other spicy foods
In addition, certain medications can lead to urinary leakage, such as muscle relaxers, sedatives, and medication for your heart or blood pressure.
How to treat urinary incontinence
When you make an appointment with Dr. Esteves about your urinary incontinence, he will first perform a thorough physical exam and do a urinalysis. He will also ask you to keep a diary of your urinary symptoms.
He may also run urodynamic tests that measure how well your bladder and muscles hold urine.
Depending on the results of your tests, he will suggest an individualized treatment plan. Some of the treatments he may use include:
- Behavioral training to manage your fluid intake and bathroom trips
- Dietary changes, including reducing your caffeine intake
- Kegel exercises and other physical therapy techniques to strengthen your pelvic floor
- Medications to calm an overactive bladder
- Minimally invasive surgery to repair your pelvic floor muscles
If urinary incontinence is having a negative impact on your life, call Dr. Daniel Esteves for a consultation. Contact him, or request an appointment online.