November is Bladder Health Awareness month, with common conditions such as incontinence and overactive bladder taking the spotlight.
While talking about your bladder woes can be embarrassing, Affinity Health says it helps to know you’re not alone and that most bladder problems are easy to rectify.
Each day, billions of people worldwide battle with the impacts of bladder conditions and disease, including urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, bladder cancer, bedwetting, and frequent night-time urination, to name a few.
Incontinence is perhaps the most common problem, affecting around 300 million people across the globe – or five percent of the population. The good news is that you can manage incontinence by seeking proper treatment and prevent the condition from negatively impacting your quality of life.
Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control, and although it isn’t a disease in itself, it is often a symptom of an underlying medical condition. It could result from one of several issues, such as urinary tract infections, constipation, arthritis, and diabetes.
While urinary incontinence can happen to anyone, it is more common in older people and affects women more than it does men.
There are five common kinds of incontinency:
- Stress incontinence: Brought upon by physical movement or activity, stress incontinence usually occurs when there’s pressure on the bladder (like coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, or lifting heavy objects).
- Urge incontinence (also called overactive bladder): This occurs when the urinary bladder contracts when it shouldn’t, causing some urine to leak through the sphincter muscles holding the bladder closed. For many people, urge incontinence is merely an inconvenience that doesn’t require a doctor’s visit.
- Overflow incontinence: Simply put, overflow incontinence is when your body makes more urine than the bladder can hold, and unexpected leakage occurs. Those who suffer overflow incontinence often also suffer repeated urinary tract infections due to urine left in the bladder and bacterial growth.
- Functional incontinence: Older people with normal bladder control may have problems getting to the toilet in time because of a physical health condition such as arthritis or cognitive disorder such as dementia. This can result in functional incontinence.
- Mixed incontinence: If you experience more than one type of urinary incontinence, you may have ‘mixed incontinence’ – which is a combination of all – or some – of the above symptoms.
Various risk factors for urinary incontinence include age, gender, being overweight, smoking, family history, and health conditions like diabetes. An enlarged prostate also referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), may cause urinary incontinence.
“If you have problems with incontinence, it’s important to speak with your doctor or health care provider, who can diagnose the type of incontinence you have and devise a treatment plan that works for your individual needs and lifestyle,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
While you can’t control everything that affects bladder health, there are some steps you can take to improve bladder health.
Aside from regular doctor check-ups, a few easy ways you can keep your bladder healthy include drinking a minimum of eight glasses of water a day, cutting down on alcohol and caffeinated drinks, and keeping physically active. It’s also vital to ensure you are going to the toilet frequently throughout the day. Urinating at least every three to four hours, keeps your bladder empty – and an empty bladder is a happy bladder.