Always Gotta Go? How to Deal with Incontinence
Bathroom time is a private matter, until bladder or bowel control issues make a debut. When trouble like this begins, it’s important to schedule a visit with your primary doctor or urologist to check for any specific pelvic conditions.
This may come as a surprise, but there are a wide variety of incontinence issues and contributing factors, so identifying the type and cause are vital in order to protect your bladder health. This requires transparency on your part as a patient. Every little detail should be shared with your urologist to ensure they have the full scope of what’s happening.
What exactly is incontinence?
It’s a symptom that occurs when you repeatedly lose control of your bladder or bowel functions. Sometimes it’s as small as a leak after you sneeze or cough—or sometimes it causes strong sensations that result in inconvenient accidents. It’s more likely to develop the older you get, or it can be caused by a medical issue, or certain everyday habits like consuming drinks, food, or medicines that act as diuretics. (ex. alcohol, coffee, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, etc.)
Types and conditions:
- Stress Incontinence: caused by pressure
- Urge Incontinence: intense and sudden
- Overflow Incontinence: small leaks throughout the day
- Functional Incontinence: physical or mental impairment
- Mixed Incontinence: more than one cause
Incontinence can also be caused by any of the following medical conditions:
- Enlarged prostate
- Prostate cancer
- Neurological disorders
Steps to Take
If you’ve been experiencing bladder or bowel issues for an extended period of time, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Start by tracking your bathroom visits with a journal. Try to keep track of the following areas:
- A detailed summary of your toilet visits over a 2-3 day window.
- An archive of everything you’ve had to eat or drink over a 2-3 day period.
- A list of nighttime visits to the bathroom.
- How strong or weak your urine is when you go to the bathroom.
- A list of accidents and any causes leading up to them.
In order to determine what type of incontinence you have, your doctor will typically start with your health history and follow up with a physical exam. Then they will request a sample of your urine, a bladder diary, and possibly a measurement of your urine output to assess. A majority of incontinence can be resolved through lifestyle adjustments or medication. Make sure to consult your doctor for more information or guidance regarding any bladder issues you’re experiencing.