Did you know worldwide 1 out 3 women suffer from urine loss postpartum? Or that 12% of 6-12 year olds suffer from bedwetting? Or that all men recovering from prostate cancer surgery can’t hold their bladder? These taboo yet typical urological conditions affect so many families, women and men worldwide, this month we wanted to highlight them and bring them into the spotlight to help you recognise them and help yourself or family members.
This special blog post is prompted by the annual September campaign launching today - ‘Urology Awareness month’- , to help raise awareness of urological conditions affecting so many families worldwide.
But first, what is urinary incontinence?
Knowledge is power when it comes to medical conditions. Urinary incontinence is no exception. Incontinence comes in many forms, from a few leaks postpartum to a complete loss of bladder control. It’s important to remember that this condition is not a disease; rather it’s a symptom, and it’s necessary to become familiar with the different forms so you know which treatment to seek. To get you started here is a brief summary of the five types of adult incontinence, (according to the Mayo Clinic).
Stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence, affecting nearly 15 million women just in the United States. It occurs when physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects, puts pressure on your bladder. The primary cause is due to weak pelvic floor muscles. Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are all contributing factors, which explains why more women are affected than men. Obesity and smoking are also risk factors
You have urge incontinence when “you have a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s the “I always have to go” feeling that often wakes you up during the night. The cause could be something minor, such as an infection, or a sign that the bladder’s nerves are damaged by something more severe like diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Risk factors for this condition are women who have had a C-section or other pelvic surgery, obesity, and those suffering from frequent urinary tract infections.
If you experience a frequent dribble of urine even when you don’t have the urge to urinate, you may have overflow incontinence, which occurs when your bladder doesn’t completely empty. Unlike stress and urge incontinence, overflow incontinence is more common in men than women. Usually an enlarged prostate is the cause, but it could also be due to nerve damage, a blockage of the urethra, medications, or weak bladder muscles.
This type occurs when you know that you need to go to the bathroom but may not be able to get there in time due to physical or mental limitations. It is more common in elderly people and is associated with conditions that affect the elderly such as dementia, arthritis, or even unwillingness to use the toilet due to depression or anxiety.
As the name suggests this type is a mixture, usually a combination of stress and urge incontinence. The causes are also similar – childbirth, pregnancy, and damage to the nerves of the bladder due to surgeries or diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting)
Most common in children, nocturnal enuresis, also referred to as bedwetting is typical in 12% of 6-12 year olds. It is involuntary urination at night, during sleep. This means waking up to wet bed sheets, pyjamas and an embarrassed child. It is often considered a normal part of childhood, but once it starts to go on for too long it becomes a problem for other parts of growing up like sleepovers, holidays, etc… This means, it starts to become a problem in some families from age 6 onwards, when it starts to be less common amongst peers.
Do you recognise any of these symptoms in yourself or in a family member? Many people feel uncomfortable simply talking about incontinence. They may be embarrassed or consider it just a normal part of ageing. Nearly everyone on the planet will have some form of incontinence at some point during his or her life so there’s no need for embarrassment. You are not alone.
Treatments are available (including Carin for women, Oopsie Heroes for children and Wil for men), but for those to take place it is important to recognise and get started as soon as possible. This will also allow for best results.
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