Tue | Sep 17, 2019

Help, I peed myself! Urinary incontinence

Published:Monday | August 12, 2019 | 12:15 AMJessica Harrison - Lifestyle Writer

As an adult, one of the most embarrassing experiences you could ever endure is peeing yourself in public. “Why can’t she hold her pee?” “Didn’t she feel it coming?” These questions and more will be whispered as you drown in a sea of shame. So, what’s happening with you? It could be urinary incontinence.

Urinary incontinence is described as the involuntary leakage of urine and occurs when the body has lost control over the urinary sphincter, or it has become weakened. In other words, passing urine when you don’t want to. While it affects both males and females, it is more prevalent in women, and the chances of struggling with this disorder increase as one gets older.

“There are several different types of urinary incontinence, some of which are overflow incontinence, functional incontinence, and mixed incontinence. However, the most popular one is stress incontinence,” said Dr Ivan Rawl Williams of Andrews Memorial Hospital.

He explained that stress incontinence is not related to the stress we feel when we are overwhelmed, but it speaks to pressure in the urinary bladder. “Being overweight, pregnant, sneezing, coughing, or even lifting heavy objects can put pressure on your bladder. Some medical conditions do, too,” said Williams.

What are some factors that increase the risk of developing urinary incontinence?

Age

As the body ages, the muscles in your bladder and urethra lose some of their strength. Changes with age reduce how much your bladder can hold and increase the chances of involuntary urine release.

Gender

Women are more likely to have stress incontinence because of pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and sometimes it just happens because of how the female anatomy is.

Smoking

The use of tobacco may increase your risk of urinary incontinence.

Family History

Some things are just in your genes. If a close family member has struggled or is struggling with urinary incontinence, you’re at a greater risk of developing the condition.

Prevention

While urinary incontinence isn’t necessarily preventable, one can take steps in order to lower one’s risk.

“Maintain a healthy weight, practise pelvic-floor exercises such as kegels, avoid bladder-active foods such as caffeine and alcohol, quit smoking, and I cannot stress this enough, obey the urge to go,” said Williams.

As much as the issue of urinary incontinence is a very awkward topic to discuss, talk to your doctor about it. It may very well be an indication of other underlying issues, and you may need to be referred to a urologist.

jessica.harrison@gleaner.com