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Planning Retirement Online

A weak bladder is more common than you think

June 2012


Bladder problemsAt my husband’s old farm, they had a double loo seat! Evidently in the good old days it was quite common to make a visit to the toilet a social event, an opportunity for a good chat.

Today we are much more reticent about our normal bodily functions and visits to the bathroom are something most of us really don’t want to discuss with anyone and certainly don’t want to share!

But as we get older, various levels of incontinence can occur making those visits to the toilet far more frequent.

Incontinence - a weakening in the control of your bladder or bowel movements - can be caused by many things.

Most women who have had children will already have been familiar with the potential of weakness or damage to the muscles in the pelvic floor and how this can lead to a “leak” when you laugh or sneeze. As we age, these muscles may naturally weaken and then people can experience a leakage or sudden urge to pass urine during exercise, laughter, sneezing and so on.

Also, as we grow older, those full night sleeps become a thing of the past and many people find they have to get up at least once in the night to visit the toilet. If you are woken more than twice a night, the medical turn for this is nocturia.

Sometimes people can experience a leaking bladder throughout the day and this is of course embarrassing although probably not as rare as you think. Sometimes this can be due to constipation when a full bowel exerts pressure on the bladder.

For men, pressure from changes in the prostate gland can create an urge to urinate.

The first thing anyone should do when they find they are suffering from any level of incontinence is to see a doctor. Medical professionals have none of the shyness many of us encounter when trying to talk about matters like this; they recognise that going to the loo is an essential part of our existence and normal bodily function for absolutely everyone.

And it is important to understand that incontinence is not necessary just a symptom of age or a general weakening of muscle control. A urine infection can cause incontinence which can be cleared up by antibiotics; there is a diagnosis of “over-active bladder” which can sometimes be treated with “bladder re-training”. Chronic constipation can exert pressure on the bladder causing incontinence, so this is another area that may need to be investigated. Changes in the prostate gland as mentioned can cause incontinence in men and this needs to be investigated quickly.

There are also unexpected side effects from nocturia. For instance, it can also be responsible for accidents in the home because many people stumble out of bed half asleep, don’t put on proper lighting because they don’t want to disturb their partner or the household, and then trip over something on the floor on their way to the toilet.

For some people, there is no solution and in certain cases, incontinence pads and other products can help. Today there is a wide range of products in normal chemists so obtaining the best items is not difficult.

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