All You Need to Know About Stress Incontinence

Any kind of urine leakage without self-control is termed as incontinence. Women experience incontinence twice as often as men, but more than 50% of woman in India do not report to a doctor.

The main reasons for the higher incidence of urinary incontinence in a woman include pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and structure of the female urinary tract.

Incontinence is usually characterized as:

1.    Overflow incontinence: Incompletely emptying of the bladder leading to overflow/unexpected leaking.

2.    Urge incontinence: Severe urgency, leaking before reaching the washroom.

3.    Stress incontinence: A small to moderate amount of urine is leaked without control when there is stress on the bladder with physical movements such as sneezing, coughing, laughing, exercising, or lifting heavy objects. The stress here is physical in nature and unrelated to emotional distress.

Risk Factors

Women more likely to develop

  • Nerve injuries to the lower back Prior pelvic surgery
  • Weakened urethral sphincter muscle Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Being overweight

Complications

Complications of stress incontinence may include:

  1. Personal distress: Incontinence with daily activities may make you feel embarrassed and distressed by the condition.
  2. Mixed urinary incontinence: Mixed incontinence is common with both stress incontinence and urge incontinence
  3. Skin rash or irritation: Skin that is continuously in contact with urine is likely to be irritated or sore and can break down.

Diagnosis

Testing isn’t necessary in most cases of uncomplicated stress urinary incontinence. Tests to diagnose incontinence include:

  1. Urinalysis: Checking urine sample for infection, blood, or abnormalities.
  2. Urine Flow Test: Testing rate of urine flow and quantity of urine passed
  3. Bladder Scan: Measuring the amount of urine that remains in the bladder after urination
  4. Cystoscopy: Assessing urinary tract problems by inserting a narrow tube with a tiny camera into the bladder
  5. Urodynamic Studies: Testing how well the bladder, sphincters, and urethra can hold and release
  6. Urine Stress Test: Checking if the stress on the bladder causes leakage by asking the patient to stand or cough while the bladder is full

Treatment

  1. Behavioral techniques: Pelvic muscle exercises, bladder training, and the use of specially designed absorbent underclothing can help with incontinence.
  2. Medications: A course of drugs under a doctor’s supervision can help treat incontinence
  3. Surgery: A variety of surgical options are available for the treatment of incontinence.
  4. Bulking agent: Injecting a bulking agent into or around the urethra to improve the way the sphincter closes.

Good Practices To Be Followed:

  1. Reduce caffeine intake
  2. Drinking small amounts of fluid rather than large amounts all at once.
  3. Following good genital hygiene
  4. Passing urine after every 2-3 hours
  5. Maintaining body weight
  6. Avoid holding urine, use of unnecessary antibiotics, use of community toilets, and drinking water or urinary alkalinizers
  7. Visit a urologist/urogynecologist if the problem persists

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