INTRODUCTION TO INCONTINENCE
You may have incontinence if you cannot control your bladder, and find urine leaking. This condition can affect your quality of life and is usually linked to your age.
The types of incontinence include stress incontinence, which affects mostly women and happens when they are exercising. There is also urge incontinence, which is because of an overactive bladder. Overflow incontinence happens when urine leaks out because of a blockage in your bladder. Lastly, total incontinence happens when a muscle controlling your bladder is damaged.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS
You may have incontinence if you experience the following:
- A Sudden, Strong Urge To Urinate
- Urinating Frequently
- Waking Two Or More Times Throughout The Night To Urinate
- Bedwetting Can Also Occur
WHAT CAUSES IT
Some of the reasons you have incontinence may include:
- Age: As you grow older, your bladder muscle weakens. This affects how well it can store urine and may lead to an overactive bladder. You are at higher risk of incontinence if you have blood vessel disease. If you are a woman, your body tissues start to deteriorate after menopause, which can worsen incontinence.
- Painful bladder syndrome: This is a rare and lifelong condition that can cause painful and frequent urination.
- Enlarged prostate: If you are an older man, you may have incontinence when your prostate gland enlarge after you turn 40. This puts pressure on the bladder.
- Prostate cancer: Untreated, this cancer can cause incontinence. Incontinence can also be a side-effect of treatments for prostate cancer.
- Neurological disorders: Problems with your nerves can affect bladder control. This includes multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, brain tumour or a spinal injury.
HOW IT IS DIAGNOSED
- Bladder diary: Your doctor may ask you to keep a diary for several days to record how much you drink, when you urinate, how much urine you produce, and other details.
- Urinalysis: A sample of your urine is sent to a laboratory so it can be checked for infection, blood or other unusual signs.
- Blood test: Your doctor may check your blood for chemicals and substances linked to causes of incontinence.
- Pelvic ultrasound: You may have to go for an ultrasound to examine your urinary tract or genitals.
- Urodynamic testing: These tests measure pressure in your bladder when it's at rest and when it's filling. This test helps measure your bladder strength and urinary sphincter health.
- Cystoscopy: A thin tube with a tiny lens is inserted into your urethra, which is where your urine passes through.
HOW IT IS TREATED
Your treatment depends on the type of incontinence you have, how serious the problem is, and what is causing it. Treatment ranges from changing your habits and going for physical therapy, to surgery.
HOW TO PREVENT IT
You can prevent incontinence by doing the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid things that irritate your bladder, such as coffee, which can make you urinate more
- Don't smoke
- Eat more fibre to prevent constipation, which is often linked to incontinence
Source: Singapore Silver Pages, an initiative by the Agency for Integrated.
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