Urinary incontinence (UI) is the involuntary leakage of urine. It is often referred to as the hidden epidemic. At different ages, males and females have different risks for developing UI. In childhood, girls usually develop bladder control at an earlier age than boys, and therefore bedwetting -- or nocturnal enuresis -- is less common in girls. However, adult women are far more likely to experience UI than adult men because of anatomical differences in the pelvic region and the changes induced by pregnancy and childbirth.
There are four main types of urinary incontinence:
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), which is the leaking of urine with coughing, sneezing, straining, exercise or any other type of exertion.
Urge Incontinence (UI) is leaking of urine associated with the sudden uncontrollable urge to empty the bladder. The urge to empty the bladder cannot be delayed and leakage occurs.
Overflow incontinence (OI) is constant leaking or dribbling from a full bladder.
Mixed incontinence (MI) is a combination of stress and urge incontinence. Functional incontinence denotes incontinence related to causes outside of the urinary system.
Causes: Any disease, condition, or injury that damages nerves can lead to urination problems. The problems can occur at any age and they may be caused by prolonged diabetes or brain and nervous disorders due to stroke, Parkinson's disease, or sclerosis. An injury of the spinal cord injury may also affect the bladder by interrupting nerve signals required for bladder control. An overactive bladder in which the bladder squeezes at the wrong time may also be caused by nerve problem. An enlarged prostate condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may also squeeze the urethra and cause urination problems. Disorders caused by drying and thinning of vagina in females due to aging, weakening of bladder and pelvic muscles, and recurrent urinary tract infections are some of the other causes.
Diagnosis: The objective quantification of the severity of urinary incontinence, standardized measurements of urinary incontinence that are accurate, reliable, and valid have not been firmly established. A physical exam will check for prostate enlargement or nerve damage. Doctors might recommend other tests, including an electroencephalogram (EEG), to sense dysfunction in the brain, electromyogram (EMG), to measure nerve activity in muscles and muscular activity that may be related to loss of bladder control, ultrasound or sonography. Urodynamic testing focuses on the bladder's ability to store urine and empty steadily and completely, and on your sphincter control mechanism. If the test is performed with EMG surface pads, it can also detect abnormal nerve signals and uncontrolled bladder contractions.
Treatment: Treatment for urinary incontinence can be grouped into the following categories: behavioural, drugs, electrical stimulation, surgery, and palliative and/or supportive. Exercise and behavioural therapy can be highly successful. Behavioural interventions can be used individually or in combination; these include scheduling regimens, pelvic muscle exercises, and biofeedback (learning technique to help the individual exert better voluntary control over urine storage), approaches. Self-management strategies use all three types of interventions. Surgery is particularly effective in the treatment of genuine stress incontinence. Palliative and/or support interventions are implemented when other therapies fail to adequately control urine loss. These interventions include catheterization, prostheses such as condom catheters; vaginal pessaries (removable device placed into the vagina) and incontinence pads or garments. Virtually all patients will develop bacteriuria (bacteria in urine) despite all hygienic efforts.
There are several herbs that are helpful in treating urinary incontinence.
Devil's claw helps in strengthening the bladder, enabling it to hold urine until voluntary release becomes possible.
Parsley, skullcap and John's Wart are known to aid in easing problems like nervous tension that could be a major cause of this disorder.
Saw palmetto is useful for men with symptoms of prostate -related urinary incontinence.
Cranberry for kidney health and green tea for antioxidant and immune effects are also useful.
Urinary incontinence is recognized as a significant health problem with serious physical, psychological and social consequences. It can be an emotionally devastating condition that causes social isolation. It often leads to lower self-esteem and fear of intimacy
Contraindications: Home remedies for urinary incontinence may alleviate the problem, but it is important to try them with the knowledge and consent of a qualified physician in order to avoid potential problems.