Urinary incontinence

Health Capsules

By Dr. Sergio López Salamanca

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine. Although it can occur at any age as a result of a disease that affects the functioning of the genitourinary system, on this occasion I refer especially to incontinence suffered by adults. The problem can occur in both sexes, but it is more common in women and its frequency increases with age. It represents not only a medical but also a social problem because it causes discomfort to the sufferer, isolation, and even depression. We find two main types of urinary incontinence, one called urgent urinary incontinence, and the other called effort urinary incontinence.

Urinary incontinence is associated with impaired functioning of the detrusor muscle, which is the muscle that is in the bladder wall. Increase of activity causes a strong, sudden need to urinate. Urinary incontinence, also called stress urinary incontinence, is related to weak pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and urethra and is the most frequent incontinence in women, since pregnancy and vaginal deliveries favor weakness of those muscles. In this case, the loss of urine occurs as a result of increased physical activity that increases abdominal pressure such as coughing, sneezing, standing or sitting in an abrupt manner, or heavy lifting.

There are different causes that can affect the function of the bladder, such as urinary tract infections, the presence of inflammatory processes in the bladder and, in the case of men, prostate inflammation, diabetes, and intake of some substances, such as caffeine, age, obesity, and smoking.

One way to help prevent and combat this problem in both men and women is by performing exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. This can be achieved by doing the following: suppose you have to urinate and make the effort to contain the urine. You will notice that muscle contraction occurs in the pelvic area. This is the exercise to be performed. Try to hold this contraction for 10 seconds and then relax another 10 seconds; do 10 repetitions of this exercise 3-5 times a day. It is important to be careful that the contraction is in the pelvic floor and not in the abdomen, thighs or buttocks.

It is noteworthy that in all cases of urinary incontinence, it is best for you to talk with your doctor to determine the possible cause of the problem, and if necessary establish early treatment that can give a resolution. Likewise, observe the need to care for aspects of lifestyle and good nutrition to prevent overweight and obesity, do physical exercise according to your health conditions, and avoid self-medication and smoking.

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