Aging’s Most Embarrassing Condition

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Aging’s Most Embarrassing Condition

August 25
15:56 2017

As everyone ages, many of us experience aging’s most embarrassing condition to some degree. In some, the condition is only occasional and not that embarrassing, but for others, it is a regular source of urgency and embarrassment. For these people, the condition can be so severe that those who suffer from it will rarely venture out of the house.

What is this most embarrassing condition? Incontinence. Incontinence can be urinary or bowel. In this post, we’ll explore the most common type of incontinence – urinary.

Urinary incontinence affects men and women, but is far more common in women than in men. Nothing can be more embarrassing when you are out in public or with other people and you cough or sneeze, causing you to wet yourself. Or what about when you have an instant urgent need to pee and you end up wetting yourself before you can reach the bathroom?

Some of the reasons for women having more problems may be attributed to their being more prone to various pelvic floor disorders, as discovered in a previous post.

Women are not alone in experiencing this problem as it affects more older men than any of them are willing to admit.

There are six main types of urinary incontinence:

·         Stress incontinence – the most common form of urinary incontinence, especially in women after giving birth to a child or endured through menopause. The ‘stress’ refers to physical stress, not mental or emotional.  This is when a cough, sneeze, laughing, heavy lifting and exercising causes urinary leakages.

·         Urge or effort incontinence – also known as overactive bladder. This is the second most common form of incontinence. It is characterized by a sudden involuntary squeezing of the muscles that control the bladder, which results in a sudden need to urinate which cannot be stopped. Sometimes this urge is triggered by the sound of running water, just changing the position of your body and even during sexual intimacy.

·         Mixed incontinence – a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

·         Overflow incontinence – this is more common among men who have some type of prostate issue such as an enlarged prostate. It can also occur from a damaged bladder, blocked urethra or inability to fully empty the bladder. As the bladder fills, it causes leakage or dribbling of urine.

·         Functional incontinence – this is when a person feels the urge to urinate, but due to physical or immobility issues, is not able to make it to the bathroom in time. Some of the common causes of functional incontinence include confusion, dementia, poor eyesight, poor mobility, poor dexterity, depression, anxiety and anger.

·         Gross total incontinence – this is when the person has a constant uncontrollable dribble or urine or periodic uncontrollable elimination of significant amounts of urine.

Some of the risk factors associated with incontinence include obesity, smoking, gender, age, prostate disease and other diseases and conditions.

I’ll testify that uncontrolled blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can lead to some incontinence. A couple of years ago, I had stopped taking my diabetes medication (I have type 2 diabetes) and I wasn’t watching my diet. I found that when I got the urge to urinate, it was sudden and intense and if I didn’t get to the bathroom immediately, I would start dribbling uncontrollably. However, as I got back on my medication and brought my blood glucose levels down to more normal levels, the urgency and incontinence went away for the most part.

There are many ways to diagnose urinary incontinence and they include keeping a diary of when and how much you drink and when and how much you urinate. Other diagnostic tools include a physical exam, urinalysis, blood test, pelvic ultrasound, postvoid residual measurement (PVR), stress test, urodynamic testing, cystogram and cystoscopy.

Treatment of incontinence depends entirely on the type and cause. In my case, it was getting my diabetes under control and losing weight. In other cases, it may require certain medications or even surgery.

Since urinary incontinence may be the result of something more serious, such as diabetes or even some cancers, it’s best to see your doctor and please be honest. Talking about your embarrassing problem just may save your life and chances are, your doctor may have ways to help you overcome, cope or treat your incontinence, allowing you to be more free to be in public or with others.

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