by Vladimire Herard


Scaling back on spicy foods, smoking and volume of drink, boosting exercise, maintaining a proper diet and healthy weight, and keeping tabs on and journaling about when you visit the bathroom can help you control urinary continence, federal research authorities say.


Close to 30 million people nationwide are afflicted with urinary incontinence, also known as leaking out of control, federal research by the National Institutes of Health, the department of urology of the University of California in San Francisco, the department of obstetrics and gynecology of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the American Urogynecologic Sociey finds. The majority of patients are women.


Additionally, overactive bladder targets about 90 million adults in the United States and Europe. Fecal incontinence affects nearly 40 million adults.


At least 80 percent of patients around the country could be relieved of the symptoms of these conditions or be coached on how to discuss or address the matter if they consulted with their physicians or spoke with family members or friends, researchers add.


However, many won’t speak with friends and relatives out of fear or shame. Incontinence carries with it social stigma.


Most patients are hesitant to share their struggles with the condition, especially with family though the members too may very well experience the same problem and could share insights.


In particular, several will not approach their doctors out of embarrassment or worry, especially women. Some even believe leaking urine is a typical part of being a woman.


As a senior or a disabled adult affected by incontinence, you may develop a strong urge to urinate and may visit the bathroom as many as eight times a day or twice a night.


You may already manage by using protective pads and making frequent trips to the restroom at a local restaurant or theater.


Aside from these action steps, you do best to treat incontinence by exercising to retrain your bladder, minding how much you drink and maintaining a record of how often you visit the bathroom and a schedule for this.


You will also experience progress after you cease eating spicy foods, cigarette smoking and lifting heavy materials as all three have been linked to incontinence, according to federal research.


Common Causes and the Role of Gender


Gender plays an outsized role in the development of urinary incontinence for men and women.


For both, urinary incontinence may evolve from an “overactive bladder,” which is characterized by powerful urges to urinate caused by such habits as eating spicy foods, tobacco smoking or lifting heavy items.


The condition can also occur with pre-existing illnesses such as nerve or muscle damage from constipation, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, obesity, spinal cord injuries or stroke.


Additionally, incontinence can be caused by side effects of medications such as diuretics or sedatives.


For women, pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are among the leading causes of stress-based incontinence.


The first two influences can lead to pelvic floor disorders, which take place when the muscles of the uterus, bladder, vagina or rectal areas are injured by all of the foregoing.


This brand of the condition places pressure on the bladder so that a minor act such as coughing, laughing and sneezing can trigger leaking.


Moreover, researchers made more gender-based discoveries about the causes of incontinence.


For instance, data reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women stricken with food insecurity were two times as likely than those without such dietary challenges to reveal suffering from fecal incontinence.


Journal research did not demonstrate differences in the type and quality of foods eaten by women but those who were food insecure admitted that they ate more sugar and starches and less alcohol, caffeine, fiber and protein.


As a result, the women in the study had more difficulty or pain producing stools or healthy ones with each visit to the bathroom.


Again, for example, a study in the journal Menopause connected sugary drinks with bigger odds of contracting urinary incontinence among women.


For the journal article, about 80,000-plus participants took part in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.


The study found that women who drank artificially sweetened beverages twice or three times per day had a greater chance of undergoing and reporting incontinence than those who never consumed them or had only one serving per week.


For men, incontinence is the result of bladder or prostate surgery or age-related growth in the prostate gland.


The growth, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, leads to the prostate imposing upon the urethra, blocking urination.


Additionally, exercise dramatically improves bladder health in men. Men who render their pelvic floor stronger with Kegel exercises are much less likely to suffer from incontinence as they age.


Men also fare much better when they reach out to their doctors for medical advice about incontinence than those who do not.


Bladder Health Solutions


To address the problem of urinary incontinence, doctors will prescribe special products such as diapers, booster pads and pull-ups and may suggest some “lifestyle hacks” to avoid wetness and discomfort.


Medical advice from your doctor could touch on how to manage leakage or an accident in public, keep a clean change of clothes, opt for the right size of continence product such as adult diapers or pull-ups, use a diaper sizing guide to do so and find an incontinence support group.


Support groups will include caregivers of disabled adults or senior citizens suffering from urinary incontinence, nurses, medical or nursing assistants or medical technicians who care for adults in a long-term care facility or hospital.


Physicians may also encourage behavioral approaches such as scheduled toileting with which a patient visits the bathroom every two to four hours and engages in bladder retraining. In particular, this boosts the time between trips to the washroom.


They may direct patients to the physical therapy clinic so that physical, occupational and massage therapists instruct them on how to practice Kegel exercises to make their sphincter and pelvic floor muscles stronger.


Doctors can also explore nonsurgery in the form of devices for the vagina or the urethra to support the bladder or prevent leakage. They can also prescribe collagen, which serves as a bulking item to be injected near the urethra to also stop leaking.


They can also order medicine to strengthen the muscles of the urinary and excretory system and recommend surgery to change the position of the bladder or revive weakened muscles.


Lastly, your doctors can also prescribe a medical device known as a R20 neurostimulator, which is used to treat overactive bladder and bowel incontinence. For example, Axonics, which is based in Irvine, Calif., created and launched the product about eight years ago.


The neurostimulator is an implant in the human body and can last 20 years for effect. However, it must be recharged every six to 10 months for one hour to remain effective in countering incontinence.