Urinary incontinence is a common and somewhat embarrassing problem. Most people avoid talking about it, so we don’t realize that it affects more people than we think.
According to The Canadian Continence Foundation, an estimated 3.5 million people in Canada experience some form of incontinence. The total direct cost of Urinary incontinence in Canada is approximately $1 billion.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Our bodies produce urine in the kidneys, which is stored in the bladder, waiting to be emptied. The bladder is surrounded by a supportive structure that’s made up of the pelvic and periurethral muscles that prevent leakages.
A change in the muscular structure and functioning of the bladder or kidneys can result in a loss of bladder control and the involuntary leakage of urine. This condition is medically defined as urinary incontinence.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence
There are several factors that cause urinary incontinence. These include:
- Urinary tract infections, diseases, surgeries, treatments, strokes, and pelvic cancer
- Childbirth, pregnancy, and menopause
- Issues in the structure of the female urinary tract
- Diseases that can damage the nerves that help control bladder function, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), and Parkinson’s
- Poor kidney function
- Tumours or obstructions
- Certain medications
- High fluid intake especially excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Certain foods and supplements
Risk Factors of Urinary Incontinence
What most people don’t know is that certain factors can increase the chances of developing urinary incontinence. These include:
Gender — Women are more likely to be affected by urinary incontinence compared to men. This is due to the many physiological changes women experience throughout their life, such as pregnancy and menopause. Men with prostate gland issues also have a higher chance of urge and overflow incontinence.
Age — As we age, our bladder and the muscles surrounding the urethra gradually lose their strength. As we get older, our bladder’s capacity to hold urine also decreases and the chance of involuntary urine release increases.
Extra Weight — Being overweight increases the pressure being applied to the bladder and the surrounding supportive muscle structure. This weakens them over time, causing the urine to leak out when a person sneezes or coughs.
Smoking — People who smoke have a higher chance of developing urinary incontinence
Family History — Family history can also increase the risk of urinary incontinence, especially urge incontinence.
Preventing Urinary Incontinence
While not always preventable, certain steps can help reduce the risk of urinary incontinence.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can strengthen the pelvic muscles and offer better support to the bladder.
Avoiding bladder irritating beverages and food such as alcohol, caffeine, and acidic foods can reduce bowel issues and help maintains a healthy urinary tract.
Treatments for Urinary Incontinence
There are also several treatments available for people with loss of bladder function. Behavioural modification therapy and medications that block chemical messages within the nerves of the bladder are common approaches to treating incontinence.
Another effective treatment is physiotherapy. Trained physiotherapists have extensive knowledge of the causes and types of urinary incontinence. They can help patients by educating them on how the bladder and pelvic muscles work together.
They also teach exercises that can strengthen the muscles surrounding the bladder and the pelvic floor to reduce the risk of leaking.
Contact Our Pelvic Health Experts In The Greater Toronto Area!
Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute provides pelvic health physiotherapy for men and women in The Greater Toronto Area. The leading sports medicine and physiotherapy clinic offers the services of experienced doctors and physiotherapists that can help prevent and treat various pelvic health issues such as incontinence and sexual dysfunction. We also offer a range of treatments and expert diagnoses for sports-related injuries and other musculoskeletal conditions.
Our services include acupuncture, physiotherapy, custom knee braces, foot pain podiatry, shockwave therapy, massage therapy, and neck and shoulder pain treatments.
Contact us now to schedule an appointment!