Few conditions affect the quality of life more than incontinence. It can negatively affect every part of life, but many of those dealing with its symptoms are reluctant to discuss them. Since the condition is so limiting and potentially embarrassing, many cases go unreported every year, although significant advancements in medical science and technology can cure or control the affliction.
In a healthy male or female, the pressure created in the urethra exceeds that of the bladder. In order to urinate, a person must relax that urethral muscle, allowing urine to exit the body. In most cases, these relationships in pressure equalizes, even when sneezing, laughing or coughing. Incontinence occurs when this relationship changes. Numerous diseases or conditions can cause incontinence, making it a very common ailment.
Type 1 diabetes can lead to incontinence, as well as excessive fluid drinking. Both of these increase pressure in the bladder, exceeding that of the urethral tissue. Even what a person drinks can cause incontinence. Health news reports that large amounts of caffeine, including those in coffee and cola, can create incontinence since they stimulate the bladder. An enlarged prostate is, by far, the most common cause for older males and can be a symptom of prostate cancer, prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. In those cases, a swollen prostate makes urination painful and less productive, leading to more frequent urination.
Many types of incontinence exist. Stress types results from weakened pelvic muscles unable to keep the necessary pressure in the urethra. Doctors diagnose this by having patients relax, and then cough vigorously to induce urine. Functional types generally affect the elderly and come from recognizing the need to urinate but being unable to restrict flow until reaching a bathroom. This may not be from a physical inability, but from other factors that prevent successful urination (an inability to walk, Alzheimer’s disease, poor eyesight and other conditions). Even children are prone to bedwetting and giggle incontinence, which results from leaking small amounts of urine while laughing. Some medications and temporary physical conditions can also create transient types.
Although most doctors can assist with a diagnosis, it is best for those experiencing these symptoms to seek help from an urologist. For women, it is far better to see an urologist than a gynecologist, since a gynecologist deals with the reproductive system and not, as often, waste elimination. Many medications and products are available to help people with incontinence to eliminate or control symptoms, allowing them regain some quality of life.