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  • Natalie Rogers, HHP

Urinary Incontinence



Urinary incontinence, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a common issue that shows as a loss of bladder control. There are several types of urinary incontinence; stress incontinence where your bladder leaks due to pressure from coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising; urge incontinence which is when you experience the sudden urge to urinate and then involuntarily urinate. This type can be caused by infection, neurologic disorders, or diabetes. Overflow incontinence where your bladder does not empty completely; functional incontinence in which a mental or physical impairment makes it difficult to get to the restroom before your bladder empties; and mixed incontinence in which you experience more than one type. (Mayo Clinic, 2018)

Urinary incontinence is a common disorder amongst both men and women and can happen at any age. Women actually experience urinary incontinence twice as often when compared to men. Usually it is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. (Medline Plus, 2016) According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, conditions that could be a cause of urinary incontinence include childbirth, chronic coughing, menopause, neurological problems, physical inactivity, obesity, older age, pelvic organ prolapse, and pregnancy. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2016) The etiology behind urinary incontinence is an improper signal from the brain to the sphincter muscles which results in the sphincters not squeezing strong enough or actually squeeze too much. The lack of proper function of the sphincter can then result in bladder leakage or not emptying the bladder fully. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2016) When an individual develops symptoms of a dysfunctional bladder and they suspect that they are dealing with bladder incontinence, an exam from their medical health care professional is warranted. This physical exam will include a pelvic exam, this includes a look at the pelvic organs, a vaginal check for women to check for prolapse and pelvic floor muscle strength, and a digital rectal exam. (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2016) There are a multitude of different treatment options for urinary incontinence which include both holistic and allopathic. Biofeedback assisted floor muscle exercises, according to the Natural Medicines Database, has been used in preliminary clinical research for stress urinary incontinence and reduced the amount of urine lost and nocturia in women. (Natural Medicines Database, 2015) (Rett MT , et al., 2007) In a study found on NCBI that was published in the Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine, researchers found that pumpkin seed oil was beneficial in the treatment of nocturia at a dosage of 10g of oil per day. Improvements were noticed within 12 weeks of treatment. (NCBI, 2014) Some other holistic treatments that could be beneficial in alleviating urinary incontinence include avoiding constipation by including more fiber in the diet and getting adequate exercise, since this can put additional pressure upon the bladder. Avoiding the following foods which could contribute to irritating the bladder could also be beneficial: alcohol, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, citrus fruit, coffee, soda, spicy foods, tea, and tomato-based foods. (Healthline, n.d.) The Mayo Clinic also suggests maintaining a healthy weight, practice pelvic floor exercises, and don’t smoke, or quit smoking. (Mayo Clinic, 2018) Although not every individual needs it, there are allopathic treatments available for urinary incontinence. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nonsurgical treatment options include pelvic floor exercises, pessary which is a device inserted into the vagina and urethra to support the neck of the bladder, transurethral bulking agents, and behavioral modifications. Surgical options include supporting the bladder neck using stitches or tissues from other parts of the body, or by using a surgical mesh sling. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2018)

If you feel that you are having some symptoms of a dysfunctional bladder, it is recommended that you speak to your medical professional about it to ensure that there is not an underlying cause that needs to be addressed that could be serious. Although we strive for a holistic approach to medical treatments, a diagnosis from a medical professional is still warranted in this situation before taking it into your own hands. When health involves internal organs, I like to remind people that we cannot see inside of our bodies to know what is going on, but medical professionals can. This helps to alleviate the stress of not knowing what could be causing something. Then from there, you and your medical professional can decide if it is safe for you to use holistic treatments or if a more aggressive allopathic approach is needed.

References

Healthline. (n.d.). Natural Remedies for an Overactive Bladder. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/overactive-bladder/home-remedies#food-and-drink

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-incontinence/symptoms-causes/syc-20352808?p=1

Medline Plus. (2016). Urinary Incontinence | Stress Incontinence | UI | MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/urinaryincontinence.html

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2016, July 1). Bladder Control Problems in Women (Urinary Incontinence) | NIDDK. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems-women

Natural Medicines Database. (2015, June 9). Natural Medicines - Login. Retrieved from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/health-wellness/professional.aspx?productid=1232

NCBI. (2014, January). Pumpkin Seed Oil Extracted From Cucurbita maxima Improves Urinary Disorder in Human Overactive Bladder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032845/

Rett MT , et al. (2007). Management of stress urinary incontinence with surface electromyography-assisted biofeedback in women of reproductive age. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17213411?dopt=Abstract

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018, January 7). Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/urogynsurgicalmesh/ucm284109.htm

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