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Causes and Treatment
of Urinary Incontinence

Author:   Peter Sedesse MD

Definition of Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence is used to describe two different symptoms, the first is complete involuntary urination, and the other is urinary leakage, usually in small amounts.  The causes of these two types of urinary incontinence can be different.  Urinary Incontinence is normally caused by a treatable medical condition.  Bed-wetting, or Enuresis, it a type of urinary incontinence that usually goes away as the child gets older.  

Childbirth, obesity and weak pelvic muscles cause urinary incontinence

The most common cause of urinary incontinence is weakened muscles in the floor of the pelvis.  This happens frequently after childbirth, but also is prevalent in obese or overweight individuals.  This type of urinary continence is termed stress urinary incontinence because the pelvic muscles do not support the urethra.  Any increased pressure on the abdomen will result in leakage, this includes things like laughing, coughing, sneezing or any type of physical exertion where you might forcibly hold your breath (bear down).

Overstimulated bladder and polyuria can cause urinary incontinence

Polyuria and an overstimulated bladder can cause urinary incontinence.  Polyuria  simply means the overproduction of urine and can be cause by many different things including over consumption of water, diabetes or
kidney infections.  Caffeine and other stimulants may also cause the bladder to be overstimulated and leak urine.

Enlarged prostate in men can lead to urinary incontinence

The prostate gland forms a ring around the urethra and if it becomes enlarged, it can prevent the patient from urinating voluntarily.  When the bladder becomes full, the overflow urine forcibly leaks into the urethra and causes urinary incontinence.

Urge urinary incontinence

Urge urinary incontinence describes a situation where the natural urge to urinate occurs, but often after it is too late to make it to the bathroom.  This type of urinary incontinence can occur in people who have suffered a stroke, or suffer from diseases such as Parkinson's, or it can occur in untreated diabetes patients. 

Treatments for urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is often an indicator of a possibly serious medical condition, so make sure you visit your doctor. The treatment for urinary incontinence will depend on what is causing it.  In some cases, this requires major medical intervention such as the treatment of diabetes or an enlarged prostate.  But there are a few treatment options that individuals can use themselves to help treat urinary incontinence symptoms.  

The first is to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic wall.  This is done by using an exercise called Kegel exercises.  The hardest part of doing this exercise is finding the right muscles to exercise.  The easiest way is to begin to urinate, and then stop the urination halfway through and pay attention to the muscles you used to accomplish that.  After you empty your bladder, lay on the floor on your back, and attempt to squeeze those muscles and hold it 3-5 seconds.  Do this 10 times per set, and 3 sets per day.  This will strengthen the muscles enough so they support the urthrea and stop leakage urinary incontinence.

The next treatment of incontinence you can do youself is simply lifestyle changes.  Many of the causes of urinary incontinence are things we can control such as caffeine intake, weight loss and smoking.  Also be sure to be checked for diabetes as untreated diabetes can lead to urinary incontinence.

Finally, it is possible to treat many forms of urinary incontinence simply by scheduling trips to the bathroom.  By emptying your bladder every hour or two, you are less likely to have leakage when you aren´t in the bathroom.  This is a good first solution until you have developed the muscles of your lower pelvis or have time to change your lifestyle.

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