Bladder problems are not just confined to the elderly. Almost a third of the UK population will, at some time, suffer from some kind of problem with their bladder. Sometimes the problem can be mild. How often have you coughed or laughed and experienced a small leak of urine? For women, especially those who have had children, it is all too familiar. This ‘stress incontinence’ is the most common form of bladder problem. Others include having to pay frequent visits to the toilet – including at night. Fortunately, most bladder problems can be cured or at least managed so you can get on with your everyday life. There are a number of straightforward treatment options as well as more permanent procedures available, including innovative new surgical procedures. In the UK, at least six million adults suffer from bladder problems and as many as one in three of us will do so at some point in our lives. While continence problems are traditionally associated with the elderly, one in eight middle-aged women will experience a loss of bladder control. Similarly, one in ten men over 65 will have a problem, as will one in 30 men under retirement age.
Overcoming the embarrassment
Unfortunately, despite being such a common problem, many people are reluctant to talk about it let alone seek the necessary treatment. In some cases, people restrict their lives and are unable to leave the house.
Symptoms of bladder problems
The most common form of bladder problem, occurring particularly in women, is stress incontinence, when urine leaks are induced by coughing, laughing or taking exercise. This occurs if the valve at the neck of the bladder and the pelvic floor muscles are not strong enough to cope with pressure on the bladder.
An overactive bladder covers a range of conditions including ‘urgency’ (having very little warning of the need to go to the toilet), ‘frequency’ (having to visit the toilet often), ‘urge’ (having so little warning that leaks occur) and ‘nocturia’ (waking often during the night to visit the toilet).
How often is normal?
It is normal to pass water up to eight times a day and once or twice a night. If you are consistently emptying your bladder more frequently than this or are worried about possible symptoms, the best thing to do is seek advice and find out more about suitable treatments.
Treatment for bladder problems
How you can help yourself.
There are a range of Bladder treatment options. Bladder problems can usually be cured or at least managed so that they do not interfere with your everyday life. There are a number of simple treatments, along with more permanent procedures if required.
Avoid drinks that contain caffeine (such as coffee, strong tea and cola drinks) or fizzy drinks as these may irritate your bladder.
Never cut down on your fluids to avoid the symptoms of any bladder problem. This will only increase the risk of developing an infection or, by making your urine more concentrated, risk irritating your bladder into greater over activity. You should aim to drink about three to four pints of fluid a day (about two litres).
Try to maintain a healthy, balanced diet; that way you are less likely to suffer from this type of bladder condition.
How we can help.
Retraining the bladder with the help of a physiotherapist can help you learn to suppress or ignore the desire to pass water, so you can return to a more normal pattern of going to the toilet.
Exercising the pelvic floor muscles by simply lifting and squeezing is important for anyone with signs of stress incontinence and particularly for women who are pregnant or who have recently had children. These exercises can be done at home but better results are obtained when strengthening of the pelvic floor is co-ordinated by a qualified physiotherapist.
How Gynaechoice can help with new surgical procedures.
In some more extreme cases, surgery may be recommended to help bladder problems. A newer type of surgery for stress incontinence in women is called TVT (Tension-free Vaginal Tape). Here, a synthetic tape is inserted into the vagina, which remains permanently in place to support the bladder when it is put under stress; results for this procedure are extremely encouraging. It is important to stress however, that no one treatment will suit every woman, so it is important to discuss all the options available before making a decision.
If you would like more information or wish to make an appointment regarding a bladder problem, please get in contact .