It is one of the most embarrassing conditions, being unable to control your bladder and incontinence affects women in record numbers. Too many suffer in silence, but there are safe effective treatments available.
CBS 2s Paul Moniz reports that female incontinence affects as many as 30 percent of elderly women. Its a disheartening reality that makes bulky underpads a way of life. It can be uncomfortable, humiliating, and a major life changer. Sufferers often feel unclean and afraid to venture far from home. There is help available and many women have sought it out and have regained their independence.
Women are twice as likely to suffer from incontinence as men. Younger women can get it too, especially after childbirth. One study showed sufferers waited an average of 8 years before seeking help from a Urologist. Dr. Victor Nitti of the NYU School of Medicine explains, "many people think that this is a natural part of aging and although to some extent that might be true, that doesnt mean that we cant treat the problem."
Dr. Nitti says that there are two primary types of incontinence: stress incontinence caused by weak bladder muscles occurs while coughing, sneezing, laughing or running. Urge incontinence is caused by an overactive bladder and results in constant urges to void.
In order to determine whats broken, Dr. Nitti performs a number of diagnostic tests to look inside the bladder. He then prescribes the treatments.
81Year old Mickey Frank suffered from urge incontinence for 15 years before seeking help. Now she is taking the drug Detrol, which relaxes the bladder and reduces by 20% the number of times someone needs to urinate. Although she still has some leakage, her condition is vastly improved. "It may not work for everyone but it has been like magic for me."
Alaine Krim had a more complicated experience with stress incontinence. After Kegel exercises and medication failed to work, she turned to surgery, which proved unsuccessful. Collagen shots are now working for Alaine. Dermatologists use them to plump up the skin and smooth fine lines and urologists can use them to bulk up the urethra and make it close more tightly.
The effects of Alaines first shot lasted two years and she just had a second one. Now shes got her life back and absorbent pads are history.
We need to point out that many of these treatments will also work on men who can suffer from incontinence because of prostate problems.
Some practical measures that you can take to control your bladder are limiting fluid intake, especially around bedtime and avoiding caffeine found in coffee, tea, and sodas. It is also recommended that you try scheduling urination at the same time everyday to avoid urine build-up and accidents.
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