The loss of bladder control associated with urinary incontinence is pretty common in older women. According to a 2018 report, nearly half of older women (43% in ages 50-64 and 51% in ages 65-80) reported dealing with this condition within the past year. About half voiced concerns about incontinence getting worse. This only creates more anxiety about something that is already a source of embarrassment for those dealing with it
But while incontinence is a problem for the older population, it isn’t inevitable. If you’re dealing with urinary incontinence, you can get help and leave the discomfort and anxiety behind you. Women in the Arlington, Texas area needing help with this condition can seek out Dr. Joan Bergstrom and our team of doctors at Women’s Health Services.
What causes urinary incontinence?
It’s important to understand that urinary incontinence is a symptom of other conditions. But, a wide variety of factors can lead to you getting it, including diet (alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, carbonated drinks, chili peppers, and other foods and drinks) urinary tract infections (UTIs), and constipation.
In older women, other things that can increase the risk include:
- Menopause: the loss of estrogen can thin your bladder lining.
- Hysterectomy: the surgery that removes your reproductive organs can also do damage to your pelvic floor.
- Neurological disease: stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease can affect the nerves involving bladder control.
- Diabetes: increases your risk of incontinence.
Why is this condition a risk as you get older?
In addition to the loss of estrogen you experience during menopause, the muscles in your bladder and urethra lose strength over time. Age can also affect how much urine your bladder can hold, which can affect the risk of leakage. Things like family history, smoking, and obesity are also factors that increase the risk of incontinence as you get older.
The results of the 2018 report indicate that many women over 50 will try to manage symptoms themselves or simply don’t see the condition as being serious enough to seek medical attention. But any cases of this condition affect your life and should be treated to avoid future incidents.
What can you do to manage it?
Some basic methods to control issues with urinary incontinence include healthy lifestyle changes. Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding foods and drinks that trigger leakage, eating fiber (this prevents constipation, which can cause incontinence), and quitting smoking are things you can do to reduce the risk of losing bladder control.
Kegel exercises are a method of training your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles in your pelvic area that help regulate bladder control) to prevent loss of bladder control. Other behavioral techniques to train your bladder can also be recommended, including bladder training, double voiding, and fluid and diet management. Medications are also available to relax the bladder muscles and calm overactive bladders.
The risk of urinary incontinence increases with age, but it doesn’t have to be your future. If you’re dealing with complications from this condition, make an appointment with Dr. Bergstrom and Women’s Health Services today to get relief.