Urinary incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine. It means that a person urinates when they don’t want to. Control of the urinary sphincter is either lost or weakened. Urinary incontinence affects at least 2.6 million people over the age of 65. Urinary leakage affects about one in three women over 70, 7 to 8% of men over 65, more than 28% of men over 90. Solutions exist to live better with this type of discomfort. Specialists in urinary incontinence such as Sphère-santé, for example, offer solutions.
What is urinary incontinence ?
The different types of urinary incontinence
The main symptom is the involuntary emission (leakage) of urine. When and how this happens depends on the type of urinary incontinence.
This is the most common type of urinary incontinence, especially in women who have given birth or are in menopause. When the bladder and the muscles involved in urinary control are put under sudden additional pressure, the person may urinate involuntarily. The following actions can trigger stress incontinence: coughing, sneezing, or laughing, lifting heavy objects, or exercising.
It is the second most common type of urinary incontinence. There is a sudden, involuntary contraction of the muscular wall of the bladder which causes an urge to urinate which cannot be stopped. When the urge to urinate occurs, the person has a very short time before urine is released no matter what they try to do.
It is more common in men with prostate problems, a damaged bladder or a blocked urethra. An enlarged prostate can obstruct the bladder.
The bladder cannot hold as much urine as the body produces, or the bladder cannot empty completely, causing small urine leaks.
Diagnosis of urinary incontinence
The ways to diagnose urinary incontinence are:
– A bladder diary: The person records the amounts they drink, when they urinate, the amount of urine produced and the number of incontinence episodes.
– A physical exam: The doctor can examine the vagina and check the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. He can examine a male patient’s rectum to determine if the prostate is enlarged.
– Urinalysis: Tests are done to detect signs of infection and abnormalities.
– Measurement of the post-void residue (RPM): It allows to evaluate the quantity of urine remaining in the bladder after having urinated.
– Pelvic ultrasound: Provides an image and can help detect any abnormalities.
– Stress test: The patient is asked to exert sudden pressure while the doctor checks for loss of urine.
The inability to hold urine can sometimes lead to discomfort, embarrassment, and sometimes other physical problems.
These include in particular:
– Skin problems: A person with urinary incontinence is more likely to have skin sores, rashes and infections because the skin is wet or moist most of the time. This is bad for wound healing and also promotes fungal infections.
– Urinary tract infections: Long-term use of a urinary catheter greatly increases the risk of infection.
Embarrassment can lead to social withdrawal, which can lead to depression. Anyone concerned about urinary incontinence should see a doctor, as help may be available.