Urinary incontinence affects 25 million Americans, but people rarely discuss the disease. This condition is caused by a problem with the urinary system. Comprised of the bladder, ureters, urethra and kidneys, the urinary system is responsible for removing waste products from the blood as it produces urine. When the urinary system works properly, the sphincter muscle on the urethra prevents urine from leaving the body. The bladder is also responsible for storing urine until a convenient time for urination. When any part of this system malfunctions, individuals may develop urinary incontinence.
1. Young People Can Have Urinary Incontinence
For some reason, there is a pervasive myth that only older people have problems with urinary incontinence. According to surveys, one out of four women over the age of 18 leak urine on occasion. An estimated one out of three men and women over the age of 30 lose bladder control at some point in their life. While the average age for this disease’s onset is in the late-40s, it can start occur in people as young as 20 years old.
Men’s Liberty said, “Many cases of urinary incontinence go untreated because people are afraid or embarrassed to get help.” In some cases, people wrongly believe that it is normal to leak a little urine. They may just believe that it is caused by a menstrual cycle or health problem as the disease slowly progresses. Because of this, many individuals with urinary incontinence do not seek out treatment.
2. You Can Drink Plenty of Fluids
One of the most common myths about urinary incontinence is that you have to drink less water to prevent an accident. While this seems to be a logical approach, it will not actually help. Drinking small amounts of water throughout the day can actually improve your bladder control, reduce the odor and stop leakage. Ideally, drink water before and after meals. Avoid water two hours before bed to prevent an accident. It may also help to reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages.
There is also a long-standing myth that you have to drink 64 ounces of water a day to be healthy. In reality, you get about 20 percent of your daily water intake from food. If you are thirsty, drink water. When you are not thirsty, do not worry about trying to get 64 ounces of fluid intake. Your body knows what it needs, so listen to what your body is telling you.
3. Your Thoughts Can Cause Accidents
There are actually several different types of urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence is caused when the pelvic muscles have been damaged. If you have this type of incontinence, you may urinate when you laugh, exercise or cough. Overflow incontinence occurs when there is more liquid than your bladder can store. Meanwhile, reflex incontinence is caused when you do not realize you have to urinate, and there may be an abnormal opening between the bladder and something else. Urge incontinence is caused when nerve passages between the bladder and brain are damaged.
If you have urge incontinence, thoughts or sounds can cause you to urinate. The sound of running water or a locked door between you and the bathroom can make you have an uncontrollable need to urinate. An estimated 3 out of 10 people with bladder incontinence have urge incontinence.
4. A Cure Is Possible
While many people believe that urinary incontinence is a natural part of aging or childbirth, it is entirely possible to cure. An estimated 80 percent of cases of this disease can be dramatically improved or cured. Your doctor starts by taking your medical history and conducting a physical exam. Other tests may be done to determine the reason why you are having urination issues. Once the doctor knows the cause, they can treat your condition the majority of the time.
5. Natural Therapies Help
Another common myth is that a natural treatment will not help. In reality, you have more options than medication and surgery. Research studies show that magnesium and vitamin D supplements can help improve incontinence. Kegel exercises and biofeedback can work to strength muscles around the bladder. Best of all, men can do Kegel exercises as well. When practiced several times a day, Kegel exercises can reduce the severity of urinary incontinence for men and women within just a few weeks.