Urinary Incontinence is the sudden urine loss that occurs involuntarily in women. Some of the factors which cause urinary incontinence are pregnancy, menopause and childbirth. It should be noted that urinary incontinence by itself is not a disease, but is a symptom of other underlying disorders such as diabetes, infections and other conditions.
Causes of temporary cases of urinary incontinence include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Excess consumption of alcohol and caffeine
- Consuming carbonated drinks
- Use of artificial sweeteners
- High doses of vitamin B and vitamin C
- Being on sedatives, muscle relaxants, blood pressure and heart medications
- Eatables which are too spicy, acidic or sugary
However, persistence of incontinence might be due to a more serious condition. Some of the causes are stated below:
- Age: The bladder muscles tend to weaken with age. This affects the bladder’s urine holding capacity.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and increase in weight during pregnancy can cause incontinence.
- Menopause: Oestrogen is responsible for the healthy maintenance of the lining of the urethra and bladder. The onset of menopause causes the oestrogen hormone levels to drop. The gradual damage of the bladder tissues causes incontinence.
- Childbirth: The bladder control muscles are weakened during normal vaginal delivery, thus leading to incontinence.
- Obstruction: Occurrence of tumours in the urinary tract can block the normal flow of urine which can cause incontinence.
- Hysterectomy: The same ligaments and muscles support both the bladder as well as the urethra. With removal of the uterus by hysterectomy, the pelvic floor muscles are deteriorated. This leads to urinary incontinence.
- Neurological disorders: Conditions such as multiple sclerosis (autoimmune disorder in which the immune system destroys the protective sheath of the nerves), Parkinson’s disease (disorder affecting motor functioning of the body), brain tumours, spinal injury or strokes are capable of causing incontinence.
Different forms of urinary incontinence are classified on the basis of their symptoms:
- Urge incontinence: Urge or urgency incontinence occurs when there is a leak before the person reaches the toilet.
- Stress incontinence: Small amounts of urine leak out during normal physical movements such as sneezing, coughing and exercising. This happens because of the minimum stress exerted on the body, and hence, the name.
- Functional incontinence: Sudden leakage of urine occurs due to external deterrents or physical disabilities such as not being able to find a toilet.
- Overactive Bladder: This is characterized by frequent and urgent urination.
- Overflow incontinence: A full bladder, at times, leads to unexpected leakage.
- Transient incontinence: If urine leakage occurs due to temporary situations such as infections, or new medications.
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