Incontinence touches the lives of many, affecting around 1 in 4 individuals over the age of 15 - perhaps someone you know or even yourself. Certainly at least one person in the image above! Yet, the burden of shame and stigma often surrounds this condition, preventing nearly 70% of those affected from seeking the help and support they deserve. Let's work together to transform this narrative!
It's crucial to recognise that incontinence is a diverse spectrum, with no universal solution that applies to everyone. Each experience is unique, spanning from temporary challenges to chronic concerns, encompassing variations in severity, type (urinary or faecal), and duration. What remains constant is that there's a solution and empowerment through the right guidance and knowledge. If you suspect you're facing incontinence, reaching out to a caring medical professional for an accurate diagnosis is strongly advised.
Sometimes, urinary infections disturb the balance of our urinary system, triggering stress or urge incontinence due to the irritation caused in the kidney, bladder, or urethra. Symptoms like frequent and urgent urination, along with discomfort, could be indicators of such infections. The good news is that these infections can typically be treated effectively, offering relief from incontinence as they are resolved.
Believe it or not, even constipation can influence our urinary habits. The proximity of the rectum to the bladder means that compacted stool can impact shared nerves, resulting in increased urination and potential incontinence. Addressing the cause of constipation can often lead to improvements in bladder control.
Diet and Medications:
Our diet and beverage choices, as well as certain medications, can exacerbate bladder activity, leading to greater urine output. Foods with spices, sugars, or acids, and drinks like caffeine and alcohol can contribute. In some cases, adjustments to your diet can make a meaningful difference in managing incontinence. Additionally, medications like those for heart health, blood pressure, and muscle relaxation can also contribute, so consulting with your healthcare provider is important.
Central Nervous System Disorders:
Conditions impacting the central nervous system, such as strokes, Parkinson's, diabetes, or Multiple Sclerosis, can affect bladder and nerve functions. These disorders disrupt the bladder's nerve control, often resulting in overflow or urge incontinence. Remember, these conditions aren't a reflection of your worth, and seeking support from medical professionals can provide strategies for managing these challenges.
The natural ageing process can bring about changes in our body, including weakening bladder muscles. These muscles may struggle to hold the urethra closed, leading to minor leakage. Alongside this, ageing can also contribute to more frequent involuntary bladder contractions, causing the urge to urinate more frequently. Remember, ageing is a part of life's journey, and seeking assistance can lead to better understanding and management.
For women, the journey of motherhood can impact bladder control. Even during pregnancy, the extra weight from the baby can put pressure on the bladder, causing minor leaks. Post-childbirth, the strain from labour can affect the muscles supporting the urinary tract, potentially leading to conditions like prolapsed pelvic floor and stress or urge incontinence. Remember, your body's changes are a testament to the remarkable journey you've undertaken. Additionally, your body may heal itself, but it will take time.
In men, the prostate gland plays a pivotal role. Conditions like prostatitis or prostate enlargement can hinder bladder function due to the constriction of the urethra. It's worth noting that not all prostate enlargements result in incontinence, but when they do, seeking guidance from medical professionals can offer insights into effective management strategies.
Remember, you're not alone in your journey. Incontinence might be a part of your life, but it doesn't define you. Seeking help, understanding, and support can empower you to navigate these challenges and reclaim your comfort and confidence.