Let’s talk about urinary incontinence, not just silently suffer
Urinary incontinence can affect anyone without age limitation. However, it is more frequent among the elderly population, especially among women than men. Urinary incontinence has negative social, psychological, and physical impact to those suffering from it.
Although it is not a life-threatening disease, urinary incontinence is a disease which can eventually take a toll on one’s health and wellbeing. Some African ethnic groups tend to label it as a spiritual attack. However, there are treatments and ways of managing urinary incontinence.
A glimpse of urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence (UI) is defined as the complaint of involuntary loss of urine. It is a common condition and prevalence in the female population range of 25–45% (Giarenis & Cardozo, 2014). According to the current national estimate more than 20 million women have urinary incontinence or have experienced it at some point. For women, stress incontinence reduces with age, whereas urge incontinence increases with age (National Institute of Health, 2007). Even though this blog is more focused on women, it does not rule out the fact that men suffer from the UI too.
Five types of urinary incontinence affect women and equally men. Castrol et al. (2015) state that “The most common is stress urinary incontinence (SUI), defined as any urine loss resulting from physical exertion such as jumping, running and coughing. Other types of urinary incontinence include overactive bladder or urge incontinence (UUI), overflow incontinence, mixed urinary incontinence (MUI), transient and functional urinary incontinence.”
Debunking the myth of urinary incontinence and old age
Urinary incontinence has certain risk factors that women and professionals need to know. Knowing these in advance will be an added advantage for them to start the early discrepancy of this disease. The risk factors are as follows; obesity, chronic coughing, frequent lifting of weight, advance age, chronic medical conditions such as Parkinson and diabetes. Health behaviour choices such as smoking, caffeine intake and sedentary behaviour increase the risk. In addition, certain medication intake like diuretics higher the risk as well as a genitourinary syndrome of menopause, pregnancy and childbirth.
Urinary incontinence is not life threatening, but it takes a toll on the patients’ physiological, psychological and social wellbeing.
To note, urinary incontinence is not life threatening, but it takes a toll on the patients’ physiological, psychological and social wellbeing. Physiological aspect can be damaged skin causing lesions and micro wounds. Psychologically it has caused many sufferers depression and hence affected their social interaction with others. Once a patient starts to suffer from isolation and avoiding people, there is a great call for concern.
Current treatment strategies of urinary incontinence
Urinary incontinence can be treated using the following therapies. There is the behavioural or lifestyle therapy, physical therapy or bladder training therapy. All these therapies are known as the non-pharmacological treatment. Behavioural therapy and lifestyle involve for example, the reduction of liquid intake hours before going to sleep. Excessive caffeine intake is an independent risk factor for detrusor overactivity. Caffeine can be found in coffee, black tea, cola soft drinks and chocolate. Carbonated drinks particularly the diet /light one, citrus fruit, vinegar and alcohol are associated with increased urinary frequency and urgency (Castro et al, 2015).
Change of habits helps to minimise the symptoms of urinary incontinence. For example, bladder training and educating the lower urinary tract by visiting the toilet first approximately every 2 hours and later approximately every 4 hours. Thereby, training the brain to follow new habit pattern. It should be noted that bladder training helps patients to regain control of the micturition reflex as such helping to eliminate the feeling of urgency to urinate. However, behavioural therapy is much more beneficial to women suffering from overactive bladder.
Pharmacological treatment is also available. This involves the administration of medications such as anticholinergics drugs. They are very effective in promoting and improving the symptoms of urinary incontinence and greatly improve the quality of life of the patients, but they have some side effective to the patients. There is also the use of epinephrine and serotonin reuptake inhibitors medications.
Another more advanced way to treat urinary incontinence is by surgical therapy. There are also minimal invasive procedures that can be conducted. They are characterised with shorter operation time, faster recovery time and lesser tissue damage.
More discussion about incontinence is needed
Of many women suffering from urinary incontinence most don’t seek medical attention. The media and social media channels like Facebook, X, Instagram and the more recent one TikTok should be used to educate and create awareness of this disease.
The patients neither the nurses should need to wait until the patient comes for consultation to make make provisions of the available solutions to their problem. Health professionals should be proactive with female patients most especially. As a health care provider, once a female patient comes for consultation, one should ask them questions related to their urinary continence.