Urinary Incontinence is a common among adults and is an embarrassing problem. Urinary incontinence affects 25 million American with 75-80% of them women. In addition to the social aspects, there is a large financial burden to the individual and society related to incontinence. In 2000, the cost of incontinence was estimated to be $19.5 billion. Approximately 75% of that cost was attributed to resources for management including absorption pads, protection and laundry.
Urinary Incontinence is defined as the complaint of involuntary loss of urine. Incontinence can be further defined based on the symptoms. Stress incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine with effort or exertion for example coughing, sneezing, jumping or running. Urge incontinence is defined as the involuntary leakage that is preceded by urgency. Mixed incontinence is the combination of stress and urge incontinence.
Urinary incontinence usually occurs when there are problems with the muscles and/or nerves that help store and pass urine. Incontinence happens when there is a strong contraction to the bladder muscle and the sphincter is not strong enough to hold back the urine. There are several factors that can contribute to incontinence including pregnancy, menopause, excess weight, constipation, medication, caffeine and alcohol and the physical aging process.
So, what can be done to help eliminate urinary incontinence? Treatment of urinary incontinence depends on the type of incontinence you are experiencing. A combination of treatments may be necessary to eliminate incontinence. Some treatment options for incontinence include behavioral treatments, medication, devices, nerve stimulation, biofeedback, surgery, nerve stimulation and catheterization.
Physical therapists that specialize in pelvic floor therapy can assist you in achieving full continence. They use non-surgical interventions of behavioral technique including:
• Fluid and diet management: for the elimination of bladder irritants that can trigger leakage of urine. Some of the most common bladder irritants are caffeine, carbonated liquid, alcohol, acidic foods and drinks and chocolate. Monitor your fluid intake; six-eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day will keep your bladder healthy
• Body mechanics: using proper body mechanics when performing physical activities to decrease pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles
• Weight loss: excess weight places pressure on your bladder and surrounding muscles, losing the weight will aid in controlling your bladder
• Pelvic floor exercises: your pelvic muscles interweave with the sphincters of your bladder. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles and performing your exercises on a regular basis can reduce your level of incontinence. It is important to perform your pelvic floor exercises correctly. Pelvic floor physical therapists are available to teach and direct you on the performance of pelvic floor exercises that are best for your level of continence.
Urinary incontinence is not something you have to live with. With a little knowledge and the proper exercises you can gain control of your bladder. If you feel you need assistance with controlling your urinary incontinence, Please contact Proactive Physical Therapy for an evaluation by our pelvic floor specialist.
Molly Mikles, PT and Pelvic Floor Specialist
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