Symptoms and Causes of Adult Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is a common problem that affects many people as they get older. For some, it may be related to pregnancy and childbirth, while for others, it is simply a natural consequence of aging.
Several factors may cause someone to experience temporary incontinence. These could include certain foods, drinks, or medications that stimulate urine production. Think alcohol, caffeine, spicy or sugary foods, blood pressure medications, etc. If a trigger like this is causing bladder leakage, you can typically improve the situation through behavioral changes.
But for those experiencing persistent urinary incontinence, the problem becomes a longer-term struggle. Among the underlying causes of persistent bladder leakage are:
- Pregnancy and Childbirth: During pregnancy, the weight of the fetus as well as hormonal changes are factors that can cause bladder leakage. And during childbirth, nerve damage or weakened muscles can sometimes lead to long-term loss of bladder control.
- Aging: As women age, hormonal changes associated with menopause can exacerbate incontinence, while in older men, incontinence is often associated with an enlarged prostate or treatment for prostate cancer.
- Tumors: A tumor or other physical obstruction in your urinary tract can lead to leakage
- Neurological Disorders: A stroke, a spinal injury, or a neurological condition such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease can often interfere with nerve signals that control your bladder, resulting in urinary incontinence.
It is important to remember that incontinence is not experienced the same way for everybody. The symptoms of incontinence can vary depending on a multitude of health factors, and there are several types of incontinence.
If you experience small urine leaks when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or exercise, this is known as ‘stress incontinence’. ‘Urge incontinence’ is different, and involves a sudden urge to urinate, such as the frequent need to get out of bed at night to urinate. If you experience a bit of dribbling after you urinate, this is a sign that your bladder did not empty completely, and is known as ‘overflow incontinence.’ And the most severe cases are referred to as ‘functional incontinence’ — this is when you simply can’t make it to the bathroom on time.
Some types of incontinence may just be a minor nuisance, while others may indicate a more serious underlying condition. If incontinence is significantly impacting your quality of life, it is important that you seek the advice of a medical professional.