Bladder weakness can be a scary term for many people. It’s not always 100% clear what it is, after all it’s a very general description, and people can be unsure of the reasons it occurs and how it can be managed.
It’s not something to be embarrassed about or to worry too much about as there are treatments and management strategies that can be put into place.
Bladder weakness has a number of names and definitions, varies from person to person and can affect both women and men. Bladder weakness is also known as urinary incontinence, when the bladder leaks involuntarily. The level of leakage can vary and the amounts lost can be very small through to larger quantities.
There are a number of causes of bladder weakness including weakened pelvic floor muscles, which is when the muscles lose their strength and flexibility leads to the escape of urine. Things such as menopause can also impact the muscles in the bladder and as menopause occurs the bladder can actually shift position and as a result the muscles become less effective.
Bladder weakness generally occurs as people age and can be an embarrassing condition for people to talk about, however this doesn’t have to be the case and there are a number of simple solutions that can help you manage your symptoms.
Firstly you need to determine which type of bladder weakness you have as your management strategies will need to be tailored to your symptoms, severity and triggers.
There are four types of bladder weakness:
- Stress incontinence - this can often be defined as the leakage that happens when you cough or sneeze, this can in fact happen with many different types of movement and is when there is extra pressure on the bladder. Stress incontinence can often occur as a result of pregnancy or birth when there has been extra strain on the muscles and they have been stretched or damaged. So at times when we’re already going through changes adapting to being a new mum or going through menopause, bladder weakness can add to the mix and create even more challenges in your life.
- Urge incontinence – is often referred to as overactive bladder and is a little different, this is where there is an urgent need to go to the toilet and is followed by loss of urine. Urge incontinence can be caused by other conditions including Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis or urinary tract infections. However, urge incontinence is also associated with ageing and the severity can increase during times of stress or by caffeine in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks or by alcohol and so keeping a diary can help with personal management.
- Mixed incontinence – is when you have more than one type of incontinence, so stress and urge incontinence for example.
- Overflow incontinence – is when the bladder isn’t emptied every time you go to the bathroom and so a constant or frequent loss of urine occurs. Overflow incontinence can be caused by certain medications, people with nerve damage caused by diabetes or men with prostate issues can also be affected.