Urinary incontinence – causes, therapy and tips – Encyclopedia for Medicine & Health

Urinary incontinence – causes, therapy and tips

According to estimates, around 10 million people in Germany suffer from incontinence. The term is derived from the Latin “incontinens” and means something like “not keeping with you”. Incontinence is the inability to control bodily waste and pass it to a specific location as needed. There are 200 million affected patients worldwide who suffer from some type of incontinence. Comparatively few people suffer from fecal incontinence. In Germany, this figure is 4 percent. Urinary incontinence is common. In fact, it is the most common chronic disease in women. The following article therefore explains possible causes and therapeutic approaches and gives tips for those affected.

Causes of urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence comes in different forms. Therefore, there are various underlying causes of this disease. According to the Deutsche Kontinenz Gesellschaft eV, there are the following forms of urinary incontinence , which is also known as bladder weakness :

  • stress incontinence
  • urge incontinence
  • mixed incontinence
  • overflow incontinence
  • Supraspinal and spinal reflex incontinence
  • Extraurethral incontinence

However, the first three forms are the most common. Stress incontinence is triggered by a weakened pelvic floor, injuries in the pelvic area or a chronic cough . In the case of urge incontinence, the triggers are usually previous diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s .

However, nerve damage or irritation such as bladder stones or urinary tract infections could also be causes of this form of bladder weakness. Mixed incontinence is a combination of the two forms mentioned first, so the causes are also a mixture of the above lists.

Treatment options for bladder weakness

Of course, there are other possible causes that cause bladder weakness . In women going through the menopause, for example, the hormonal change can be a cause, in men a general disruption of the hormones. However, malformations of the urinary tract are also conceivable triggers for incontinence.

Age, predisposition and gender also play an important role. With all the factors that can lead to it, helpful therapy options for urinary incontinence are all the more important for affected patients of all ages. In fact, they not only have to deal with the symptoms of the disease in general, but also with psychological problems.

The quality of life is greatly reduced. In addition, those who are ill lose a lot of their zest for life because they feel unwell and leave the house less and less. For many sufferers, bladder weakness causes them to feel out of control. It is not uncommon for depression to follow if no treatment takes place.

A clinical study by the University Women’s Hospital in Tübingen has shown that regular pelvic floor training is of great help for stress incontinence and mixed incontinence. In the meantime, it is even always the first step in treatment for a new patient. The training of the pelvic floor muscles now complements all other therapy options.

It is important that the exercises are trained under the guidance of specialist staff and repeated regularly. This is the only way to achieve long-term success. This first step often includes controlled behavioral therapy. This consists of monitoring fluid intake, regular urination, weight reduction and, in the case of smokers, nicotine withdrawal.

Another form of therapy is medication. There are specific drugs that help to increase and sustainably strengthen the urethral closure function. In general, however, it should be noted that not all patients tolerate these drugs well.

Last but not least, there is the option of having an operation performed. In women, for example, a tension-free band is placed under the urethra. In men, on the other hand, a type of balloon is used to seal the urethra. However, the most successful of the surgical measures is the artificial sphincter.

In order to get more quality of life in everyday life, there are various incontinence aids for sufferers. These range from special protective underlays for beds to incontinence briefs, so that you can go out the door a little more carefree.

Tips for those affected: This is how patients recognize incontinence

While a urinary tract infection is already recognizable by pain and burning when urinating , it is a little more difficult with incontinence. The reason for this is that each form of bladder weakness is associated with different symptoms.

A feature that can always be used to identify bladder weakness is the involuntary loss of urine. In the case of stress incontinence, for example, this is the case when the body is under stress. This can be coughing, heavy lifting, or hearty laughter. Urge incontinence, on the other hand, can be recognized by the fact that those affected feel an almost sudden urge to urinate when the bladder is empty or barely full.

Sufferers are unable to control the urge but must urinate immediately. In mixed incontinence, the symptoms mentioned above are combined and can occur simultaneously or alternately. If there is reflex incontinence, the bladder only empties when a corresponding reflex triggers urine leakage.

Nerve or cerebral performance disorders are often the underlying cause. A conversation with the family doctor , urologist or gynecologist will bring light into the darkness. Once a bladder problem is identified, the next steps often include:

  • Usually, the doctors clarify the suspicion through various examinations. Among other things, there is an ultrasound examination of the bladder, urethra and kidneys.
  • Depending on the suspected cause, further examinations are usually necessary in order to make an accurate diagnosis. These include CTs, cystoscopies and urological checks.

Preventive measures to prevent bladder weakness

As already mentioned, pelvic floor exercises are a helpful way to counteract or prevent this condition. It is also important to pay attention to your own weight, since being overweight promotes bladder weakness.

A healthy diet and sufficient exercise are important for the vitality of the body and help to prevent diseases. In individual cases it can be helpful to train the urge to urinate. This works, for example, by patients not immediately giving in to the first feeling of having to urinate, but delaying urination.

It is also important to completely empty the bladder. It is advisable to really take your time on the toilet. The feeling of incomplete elimination is not only uncomfortable, but also unhealthy. Furthermore, a well-stocked fluid balance is one of the measures that prevent incontinence. If you drink enough, you protect the bladder muscle and prevent a lack of liquid. Low-irritant drinks such as still water, herbal tea and juices are also recommended.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.