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Women and Incontinence

By Sandra Bauer, OTR

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional loss of urine. Approximately 11 million women are affected by incontinence. According to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, one in four ages 30-59 experience incontinence episodes. Many individuals feel this a natural part of aging when in fact - it is not. Often sufferers can be helped but never discuss the situation with their Doctors because of embarrassment.

There are various types of incontinence. The most common being stress and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence occurs when there is intra-abdominal pressure such as sneezing, coughing, laughing or lifting. The pelvic floor muscles (which prevent bladder leakage) are not strong enough to hold back the urine with the added pressure resulting in urine leaking from the bladder. Most times the accidents are small in nature but can become worse over time.

Urge incontinence is the sudden strong urge to urinate with inability to make it to the bathroom in time. This can result in moderate to large accidents. Again, the pelvic floor muscles are unable to hold back the flow of urine usually due to weakness.

Mixed incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Incontinence can occur for a variety of reasons. Some common ones are pregnancy, childbirth, hormonal changes with menopause, obesity, chronic constipation, chronic coughing, and bearing down while lifting. If you've been living with incontinence for months or years, you need to know that it can be improved or completely eliminated with treatment.

Exercise and examination of diet has been clinically proven to reduce if not eliminate urinary incontinence. Many of the foods and drinks we consume are bladder irritants. Knowing what foods to eliminate and how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles are essential to eliminating urinary incontinence. It is important to understand how diet can affect the bladder and knowing how certain foods and drinks affect your bladder can significantly lessen ones incontinent episodes. Many people with incontinence decide to restrict their water intake out of fear that they may have an accident. While a decrease in fluid intake does lessen the amount of urine in the bladder, it also makes the urine more concentrated which is irritating to the bladder. Dark yellow urine encourages bacteria growth, which may lead to infections making bathroom visits more frequent. Never restrict yourself from water - you need it for a healthy bladder.

There is help for individuals who do not want surgery or to take medication. As an Occupational Therapist for fourteen years, I have seen remarkable results treating incontinence. No need to be embarrassed - take action and take back control of your life.

About The Author
Sandra Bauer, OTR is a practicing Occupational Therapist with over fourteen years of experience. She is passionate about educating and helping women who are suffering needlessly from incontinence.

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