Are There Different Types of Bladder Control Issues?

When the Urinary Isn’t Ordinary

Despite the bladder being an astoundingly resilient piece of human anatomy, it’s not immune to dysfunction. Nearly 13 million Americans experience bladder control issues. Urinary incontinence isn’t ethnically, age or gender specific. Bladder control issues occur when the bladder muscles contract suddenly or when the sphincter muscle is weakened, losing the ability to hold back urine. This causes involuntary urine leakage.

Reasons for urinary incontinence range from muscle atrophy, pregnancy, illness, lifestyle and diet. Since there are so many factors, different types of bladder control issues exist:

Stress Incontinence

Stress Incontinence is the unintentional and uncontrolled leakage from the bladder as a result of coughing, sneezing, climbing stairs, laughing and similar stressors on the abdomen or bladder. The obese might also experience stress incontinence since the added body weight would place excess pressure on the abdomen. Giggle incontinence seen with children also falls into this category.

Women of all ages tend to experience stress incontinence more commonly then men. Not only through menstruation and menopause, pregnancy also causes the bladder and surrounding abdominal muscles to stretch out. The result is loose pelvic floor muscles.

Additionally, aging causes the bladder muscles to deteriorate.

Urge Incontinence

Urge Incontinence, also known as Overactive Bladder (OAB), is a chronic condition that causes involuntary urine leakage and a sudden urgency to pee, regardless of how much the bladder is actually holding. Sometimes the involuntary contractions of these overactive bladders is strong enough to overpower the sphincter muscles along the urethra, thus causing urine to be expelled.

When OAB occurs at night, it’s called nocturia and is common in women and the elderly. Regardless of one’s age, bed-wetting is also categorized as urge incontinence.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence is a sub-category of urge incontinence and occurs when someone with poor mobility and dexterity, dementia, confusion, depression, drunkenness, anger, anxiety cannot control their bladder.

Some neurological problems, like multiple sclerosis, stroke and spinal cord injuries, can cause urinary incontinence. Primary polydipsia and diabetes mellitus also affect the bladder. Certain medications, like heart medications, anti-depressants, sedatives and muscle relaxers, may cause bladder control issues as a side effect.

Worth mentioning is the stimulating effect certain foods and drinks have on the bladder. For example, drinking alcohol, tea and coffee act as diuretics and “go right through you.” Spicy and sugary foods also excite the bladder.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are commonly linked to bladder control issues. A UTI is an infection involving the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. UTIs usually begin with a severe urgency to run to bathroom and a burning sensation upon urination. Painful urination might also be a result of cystitis—inflammation of the bladder—or, in men, an enlarged prostrate. Since these are serious, consult a doctor immediately.

Depending on which type of urinary incontinence you or someone you know is experiencing, the condition is highly curable. Usually, if bladder control issues are a result of lifestyle and diet or a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, the issue can be reversed with physical therapy, Kegel and core exercises, drinking less caffeinated beverages, and maintaining a healthy weight. Women in particular benefit from strengthening their pelvic floor muscles.

Should incontinence be caused by Overactive Bladder, a UTI or another serious medical condition, medication or surgery might be necessary.

When the urinary tract doesn’t act ordinarily, daily life is interrupted. Bladder control issues are directly linked to our health. Urinary incontinence might be a symptom of a stressful lifestyle or reveal a serious medical issue. If involuntary leakage is becoming a nuisance and disrupting normal life, consider what factors might be contributing to any difficulties. However, if you are suddenly experiencing pain or anything abnormal, seek medical attention immediately.

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