The way our culture looks at aging has changed in the last several decades. We no longer think of all seniors as sitting in a rocking chair. Now we see our older relatives traveling and enjoying all that life has to offer. Likewise, bladder leakage, although common, is not a normal part of aging. Let’s learn some facts.
Bladder Leakage Is Not Inevitable
Just because it is a common complaint does not make it an inevitable consequence of getting older. In fact, younger women, and especially young athletes, suffer from bladder leakage. One in four women between 18 and 59 have involuntary leakage.
Aging may increase the likelihood, but it is not preordained. One half of women don’t tell their doctor they are experiencing leakage due to shame of thinking it’s just plain “normal.” It is not.
Two Types Of Bladder Leakage Or Urinary Incontinence
There are two different types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence is an involuntary leakage of urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or during exercise. It normally occurs due to an imbalance in abdominal muscle coordination and strength, and both of these are required for continence. During exercise, pelvic muscles contract and relax depending on what you are doing, but stress on your system from weak muscles can cause pressure on the bladder and urethra. In addition, poor technique when exercising and problems with structural support both can lead to stress incontinence.
Urge incontinence is involuntary leakage coupled with a strong urge to pee. Certain triggers of urge incontinence can be running water or simply the act of getting home after errands. If you know you have this common condition, you probably think to drink less fluids if you won’t have easy access to a bathroom. You may feel you need to pee, then it subsides, but it comes back with a vengeance. This can become a vicious cycle of needing to pee, panicking, then becoming more stimulated which then concludes with you wetting your pants or barely making it to the bathroom.
Risk Factors For Urinary Incontinence
There are some common risk factors for developing urinary incontinence.
They include the following:
- Weak or overactive bladder muscles
- Weak pelvic floor muscles
- Damage to nerves caused by diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Short term urinary incontinence can be a result of urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, and constipation.
Don’t hide urinary incontinence from your physician. Although it’s a common problem, it’s not normal. Find out what you can do about it.