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Relief for Incontinence

Health, Wellness & You
Friday, January 9, 2009

Millions of Americans suffer from urinary incontinence, or lack of bladder control. For women, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and multiple sclerosis can trigger the disorder. Certain medications can also cause this condition. Men may experience incontinence due to enlarged prostates or narrowing of the urethra from scar tissue. Though urinary incontinence can be embarrassing, the condition is treatable. In many cases, it can even be cured. Fort HealthCare’s new Continence Care Program is a cooperative effort between Fort HealthCare’s Center for Women’s Health, Fort HealthCare Urology Associates and Fort HealthCare Therapy & Sports Center, and offers a respectful, dignified, and comprehensive approach to the treatment of bladder problems in both men and women.

There are several types of urinary incontinence. The most common is stress incontinence. Those with stress incontinence might find it hard to hold back urine when they cough, sneeze, or exercise. Urge incontinence is another common type. With this type of incontinence, people feel the sudden need to use the restroom but cannot hold the urine long enough to reach it in time.

To find out what type of incontinence you experience and what the cause of it might be, you should see a doctor. A complete evaluation may include a review of your medical history, physical exam, blood tests, urinalysis and voiding (bladder) diary.

Once a diagnosis has been made, there are a variety of treatments available that can help with all types of incontinence. Your doctor can help you take advantage of some of these therapies, but others you can put into practice yourself. Here are some tips for controlling urinary incontinence that you can follow on your own:

  • Begin a weight management program if you are overweight, and work an exercise program into your routine.
  • Avoid bladder-irritating foods such as coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate.
  • Seek bladder training for urge incontinence. With this treatment, urination is set for certain intervals that begin every hour. After you have stayed dry for several days, the intervals get longer.

After talking with your doctor, you may find that certain medications will help your urinary incontinence. Some can help tighten and strengthen pelvic floor muscles or calm overactive bladder muscles.

Urinary incontinence can have a variety of causes. Some physical problems common to older adults can lead to urinary incontinence. But it is important to know that urinary incontinence does not automatically go hand-in-hand with getting older. Some medicines such as those used for a cold or high blood pressure can cause urine leakage. These medicines may loosen or tighten the sphincter muscles, which control urine flow.

The next time you see your doctor, bring along a list of all over-the-counter and prescription medicines you take. If you think you have incontinence issues, contact Fort HealthCare’s Continence Care hotline, at (920) 568-6575. A physician will then be better able to help you tackle a bladder control problem.