Urinary incontinence happens for a wide variety of reasons and whether you develop these issues depends on your current health, medical history, and genetic factors. Part of the aging process includes incontinence. Many middle-aged people experience it, and the majority of people over 80 are incontinent. Lifestyle changes and exercises can help decrease episodes of urinary incontinence, while certain risk factors increase the likelihood. There are many causes of urinary incontinence.

Defining Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence happens when the storage and discharge of urine begin functioning abnormally. This may be either a short or longterm medical concern. The range of severity depends on multiple factors like age, weight, and genetic tendency. Different types of incontinence are caused by stress, urge, overflow, and total incontinence. The urinary tract, bladder, and urological system as a whole may experience anything from obstruction to overactive bladder muscles.


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Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence describes what happens when the pressure in your bladder is stronger than your urethra. The urethra connects the bladder to the urinary meatus and expels urine from the body. Stress incontinence occurs when your pelvic floor is weakened or damaged, often through injury. The urethral sphincter is the mechanism that keeps the urethra shut. Damage done to the urethral sphincter may occur due to childbirth, connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, obesity, and urological surgeries such as removal of the prostate gland or a hysterectomy.


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Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is related to the malfunction of detrusor muscles located in the bladder's walls. The detrusor muscles are responsible for relaxing and contracting the bladder as it fills and empties with fluid. If the detrusor muscles contract too much, you will need to use the bathroom urgently. Urge incontinence is commonly called an overactive bladder. It can result from something as simple as excess intake of caffeine or alcohol or due to inadequate fluid intake; drinking too much or too little causes imbalances in your urological system.


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Overflow Incontinence

Continual and chronic retention is typically caused by an obstruction in the bladder and is known as overflow incontinence. Obstructions may come from benign prostatic hyperplasia, bladder stones, constipation, or under-active detrusor muscles. Despite numerous attempts to empty the bladder, no urine is expelled. The increasing pressure from the full bladder behind the obstruction causes multiple leaks. Certain medications and people with nerve damage may develop overflow incontinence because the bladder is stretching to accommodate the excess fluid, and it's inability to perform regular functions.


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Total Incontinence

Total incontinence is the complete malfunction of the urological system, resulting in the individual to be unable to control the storage and flow of urine. Generally, people born with bladder issues, those with injuries to their spinal cord experience total incontinence. People with bladder fistulas -- small, tunnel-like holes that form between the bladder and nearby anatomy like the vagina -- may also cause total incontinence.


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Medications can disrupt the activity of your urological systems. Medicines like diuretics, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy, and sedatives can all impact the health of your bladder. It's vital to discuss with your general practitioner any concerns you may have about the medications they have prescribed. Individuals with family members who have urinary incontinence are more likely to develop incontinent issues themselves.


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Family History

There's a possible genetic link to urinary incontinence. Discussing incontinence is difficult for everyone, but if a family member experiences episodes of incontinence it could be due to a pre-existing condition. If you're experiencing symptoms, it is wise to consult a urologist, and if you have had issues in the past, let your children know so they can include urinary incontinence in their own family medical histories.


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The Aging Process

As the human body gets older, the biological systems weaken and begin to lose their functionality. Incontinence is a common medical condition among older people past 80 years old. Many exercises and lifestyle changes can help empower the bladder, detrusor, and urethral muscles. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and losing excess weight are primary factors in maintaining strong urological function.


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Urinary Tract Infections

Most women will have a urinary tract infection during their lifetime. Simple acts like going to the toilet or sexual intercourse can introduce bacteria from the bowel to the urethra, leading to infection. Issues like pain, burning sensations during urination, and flu-like symptoms occur when you have a urinary tract infection. Men may contract urinary tract infections, but they are more common in women. Repeat UTI's causes damage to the bladder, kidneys, and ureters and may eventually lead to incontinence.


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Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Incontinence is primarily treated with lifestyle changes, strengthening the pelvic floor (also known as Kegel exercises), and bladder training. Reducing your intake of caffeine helps control incontinence because caffeine increases the production of urine. Collaborating with your doctor on managing a balanced fluid intake can do wonders for reducing symptoms. Drinking too much or too little fluid can make incontinence much worse; inadequate fluid intake causes excess waste products and urine in the bladder. As a result, the bladder stretches or the detrusor muscles overcompensate for the pressure, resulting in injury to your pelvic floor.


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