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Urinary Incontinence Questions and Answers

Urinary incontinence (UI) is such a pervasive and embarrassing problem within communities that often individuals who suffer from its effects choose not to visit their doctors, unless in dire need. Although UI is not a disease but a symptom of several underlying conditions, many can be satisfactorily treated by a physician.

Here are seven (7) of the most concerning questions often asked about bladder control problems with answers obtained from the experts:

Urinary Incontinence-Questions and Answers (Q & A)

Q: Number 1: I suspect I have a bladder problem, what could have caused it? 
A: If you are unable to hold your urine until you reach the bathroom and this is a recent change in function, you may have urinary incontinence. Speak with a health care provider.

There are many underlying causes of bladder disorders; some are temporary while others are persistent and chronic. Some of the more common temporary causes of UI are medications, foods, urinary infection and constipation:
• Medications - hypertensive drugs, heart medications, muscles relaxants and sedatives
• Bladder irritation - bladder stimulants and diuretics, such as caffeine, teas and alcohol can cause sudden urges to urinate. Other types of foods and drinks that aggravate or irritate the bladder are carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, spicy foods and sugar and acid combination (tomatoes and citrus).
• Urinary infection - a burning sensation when you urinate, and foul odour in addition to the urge to void are warning signs of an infection.
• Constipation - hard, compacted stool in the rectum puts pressure on the bladder nerves, creating an urge and urinary frequency.

Q: Number 2: I am a twenty year old female with UI; why do I have it at my age and who really gets it? 
A: Twice as many women suffer from bladder infections and control problems than men. Urinary incontinence affects all age groups and women are more likely to encounter that problem at least once in their lifetime. For women, the incidence increases with menopause.

Q: Number 3: I am pregnant, in my first trimester and may have a urinary tract infection (UTI); what are the symptoms and can it affect my baby? 
A: UTIs are more common during pregnancy because of changes in the urinary tract. Most UTIs occur after the 5th week of pregnancy through to 24 weeks. Tell-tale symptoms include:

• Pain or burning upon urinating and a sense of urgency
• Blood or mucus in the urine
• Pain during intercourse
• Cloudy, odorous urine

Early treatment of UTIs will not cause harm to the baby. Speak with your health care provider.

Q: Number 4: I am told I have stress incontinence; what is it exactly? 
A: This is the most common type of bladder control disorder in women. People with stress incontinence leak involuntarily while exercising, laughing, or lifting objects. It often occurs because of a weakened pelvic muscle, hormonal imbalances, or a change in the position of the bladder.

Q: Number 5: What things contribute to stress incontinence? 
A: This may result from physical changes in the body and may include these factors:
• Surgery
• Weakened pelvic muscles that cause the bladder to drop down into a position that prevents the urethra from closing properly
• Pregnancy and childbirth
• Menopause
• Menstruation

Q: Number 6: What can I do to prevent a bladder control problem? 
A: A bladder control problem is not always preventable but you may be able to decrease your risks:
• Practice kegel exercises
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Avoid bladder irritants
• Don't smoke
• Exercise
• Eat more fibre

Q: Number 7: Are there any home treatments for incontinence?
A: Self-help techniques can aid mild cases of a weakened bladder muscle. Kegel or pelvic floor exercises are usually recommended to strengthen the muscles and prevent leakage problems. They are usually done every day, 5 sets a day. One set consists of: contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor, holding it for a slow count of 5 then relaxing; repeat this 10 times to complete 1 set.

You can increase awareness of your pelvic floor muscles by stopping the flow of urine.

A thorough examination by your healthcare provider will assist you with the solutions needed to get you back to your normal self.