What is Urinary Incontinence?
Incontinence is an uncontrollable and involuntary loss of bladder control.
What are the Symptoms of Urinary Incontinence?
- Stress incontinence: An involuntary escape of a small amount of urine when a person sneezes, coughs, laughs, or strains to pick up a heavy object. It is common in women, particularly following childbirth when the sphincter muscles are stretched.
- Urge incontinence : An urgent need to pass urine is accompanied by an inability to control the bladder as it contracts. Once urination starts it continues until the bladder is empty. It is often triggered by a sudden change in position.
- Total incontinence: Complete lack of bladder control caused by complete absence of sphincter activity.
- Overflow incontinence: Occurs in chronic urinary retention (the individual is unable to empty the bladder normally, often because of an obstruction such as an enlarged prostate gland). The bladder is always full, so there is constant dribbling of the overflow of urine.
What are the Causes of Urinary Incontinence?
- Disorders of the urinary tract, for example, infections or bladder stones).
- In women, prolapse (displacement from its normal position) of the uterus or vagina.
- Damage to the brain or spinal cord.
- Feelings of anxiety, stress or anger.
- A fractured pelvis or weak pelvic muscles.
- Irritable bladder, the bladder muscle contracts intermittently and increases the pressure in the bladder to push urine out of the urethra, causing an intense desire to pass urine.
- Central nervous system disorders, for example, stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
Traditional Medical Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
- If weak pelvic muscles are the cause, then pelvic floor exercises may help to restore sphincter muscle, in some cases an operation may be performed to tighten or lengthen the urethra.
- Anticholinergic drugs may be used to relax the bladder muscle if irritable bladder is found to be the cause.
- Special incontinence underwear (with an internal pad to absorb the urine) may be used if normal bladder control cannot be restored. Men can wear a penile sheath that leads into a tube connected to a portable urine bag.
- In severe cases where all other treatments have failed, your doctor may suggest urinary catheterisation (a tube inserted into the bladder to drain the urine) or a urinary diversion operation (to bypass the bladder).
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
Oriental bodywork, reflexology, massage, Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, polarity therapy, and CranioSacral Therapy are helpful first options. Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture Chinese medical experts believe that incontinence is caused by a lack of energy in the kidney and spleen and their related meridians. To combat this imbalance, they work on the points that correspond to these areas and to the bladder. Acupressure Points that may be focused on during an acupressure session to treat incontinence are Conception Vessel 2, Spleen 6, and related auricular points. Chinese Herbal Therapy Herbs may be given to help tone the kidney and spleen and to strengthen bladder functions. Yoga and Meditation Exercise is always beneficial for strengthening muscles, including those of the bladder and surrounding areas. Try these easy yoga exercises several times daily to combat incontinence: Ashwini Mudra and Stomach Lock. Consult a trained practitioner for proper technique. Avoid these poses if you’re pregnant.