Dr Ketan Desai, Consultant Urologist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre helps bust some common myths about urinary incontinence.
It happens to everyone with age.
Myth. Urinary incontinence — leaking urine that you can’t control — is not an inevitable part of ageing. Even if it does happen to you, there are ways to get the problem under control. If you start to notice symptoms, let your doctor know so you can figure out the best treatment plan.
Bladder problems are common.
Fact: About half of all women and one-third of men leak accidentally from time to time. Women at their time of pregnancy, childbirth or menopause are even more like to leak.
It only affects older people.
Myth. Lots of things can cause incontinence: Obesity, anxiety, smoking, or nerve damage from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. For women, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause might cause it. Prostate problems can be the cause of men. Temporary symptoms can even build up from too much alcohol and caffeine.
Constipation makes it worse.
Fact. When you can’t poop, you’re more likely to have an infection and other problems in your urinary tract that can affect your bladder control. Make sure you get enough exercise, fluids, and fiber from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to keep you regular. If that’s not enough, talk to your doctor about supplements, medication, and diet changes that might help.
It’s because your bladder is small.
Myth: Most individuals don’t actually have a bladder physically smaller than normal. But for some, the organ in the body cannot hold about 2 cups even though it is a usual amount. Its muscles lose its ability to hold on the amount of fluid. This in result can lead to overactive bladder and incontinence.
You can train your bladder.
Fact. This is one way to improve incontinence. It means you build a routine where you pee every 2 or 3 hours. If you feel the urge to go before then, you might use deep breathing or meditation to help you get through it. Eventually, you can extend the time that you are able to wait. It may help to keep a diary of your bathroom habits to see if you are making progress.
You should drink less to stop leaks.
Myth: Without enough fluid intake the urine gets too strong which can irritate the bladder. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. The doctor still might suggest you avoid some drinks like those that contain caffeine or alcohol which cause irritation. Limiting liquids a few hours before bedtime to prevent problems when you sleep would be a good idea.
Exercise can help your bladder.
Fact: Strong pelvic floor muscles help you hold in your urine. Men and women can strengthen them with Kegel exercises that tighten and relax the muscles that release and stop your pee. If you have trouble figuring out which muscles to work on, a doctor or physical therapist with special training can help you find and flex them correctly.
Myth. Incontinence isn’t a disease by itself — it’s a symptom of another health problem. Temporary condition like an infection could cause it. Treat that with antibiotics, and the incontinence goes away. But even when it’s due to a long-term illness like diabetes, there are exercises, diet changes, devices, medications, and surgery that can treat both the illness and your bladder problem.
It helps to quit smoking.
Fact: Smoking is the biggest cause of bladder cancer which can lead to incontinence and other serious problems. It also makes a person cough more which can stress your bladder and make you pee accidentally. Some individuals say it irritates the bladder and makes them want to pee more.