By LaNita Mortenson, PT, Therapy Services
Jump on the trampoline and run with my kids without peeing my pants! Men and women struggle with bladder leakage, or urinary incontinence. While nearly 30% of people report suffering from urinary incontinence, there are many more suffering in silence. Do not be ashamed; this is very common. While common, it is not a normal part of aging. It is a medical problem that affects us emotionally, physically, and socially. Do not let the fear of peeing your pants stop you from enjoying life. This year, commit to taking the steps to treat and overcome your incontinence symptoms.
3 Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are three main types of incontinence – urge, stress, and mixed (a combination of urge and stress). Urge incontinence, or overactive bladder, is an urgent need to pass urine, and sometimes urine leaks before you have time to get to the toilet. Stress incontinence is urine leakage with physical movement or activity such as jumping, coughing, sneezing, running, or heavy lifting, due to increased pressure or stress on your bladder. Urinary incontinence can be both short-term and long-term.
Risk Factors for a Leaky Bladder
There are many risk factors for developing incontinence. These risk factors include a history of pelvic surgeries, pregnancies (this risk increases with multiple pregnancies), vaginal/cesarean deliveries, prostate issues (men), obesity, diabetes, stroke, decreased estrogen levels, high blood pressure, and use of certain medications.
Though symptoms may differ for men and women, it remains important to address the cause of urinary incontinence to improve your quality of life. Before considering a surgical procedure, conservative options including physical therapy may offer you relief from your symptoms. One of the primary treatments for urinary incontinence is rehabilitation. Physical therapy rehabilitation is a non-surgical approach to treat the dysfunctions of the pelvis, giving you control over your bladder. It involves more than just Kegel exercises. Treatment consists of education, behavior modification, techniques to help you find your pelvic floor muscles and use them correctly, and exercises to strengthen affected muscles. The bladder and pelvic floor muscles can be trained.
Be honest with your health care provider and they will help you choose a solution to fit your lifestyle. Your options will depend on the type and severity of your incontinence. Lifestyle and quality of life – the reason you made this New Year’s resolution!