Six Sneaky Causes of Bladder Leaks
Leaking bladder? You're not alone. This condition, called urinary incontinence, affects more than 25 million people in the United States alone. Anyone can experience this often-embarrassing health issue. In fact, the Urology Care Foundation says up to 50% of women and 25% of men have some level of urine leakage.
The good news? Determining the cause of incontinence can help you seek the appropriate health care. These are some of the most common conditions that lead to bladder control problems.
Urinary Tract Infection
A UTI is one of the most common causes of a leaky bladder. This infection causes inflammation that leads to a strong urge to urinate. If you suddenly can't make it to the bathroom in time, a UTI could be the culprit. To prevent UTIs, try natural supplements such as cranberry, uva ursi, garlic and green tea.
Weakened Bladder Muscles
Our bladder muscles naturally grow weaker with age, often causing urinary incontinence. Most people who experience temporary or chronic bladder leaks are women ages 50 and older, although this issue also affects men. Weak muscles may spasm and reduce the size of the bladder, meaning you have to head to the bathroom more often. In addition, menopause causes the lining of the bladder to decline in quality, which also affects urine response.
While we can't turn back the clock on aging, we can keep tissues, organs and muscles healthy with good nutrition and plenty of exercise. These steps can help lower your risk of a leak at an inopportune time.
Extra weight can also weaken the bladder muscles. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can often resolve related health symptoms like incontinence.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the inability to go number two can lead to urine leakage. These areas share nerves, which means that the pressure caused by constipation can cause bladder overactivity.
Clearing up constipation typically resolves this type of acute incontinence. Start by drinking plenty of water and taking a fiber supplement to stay as regular as possible. Fiber-rich foods include raspberries, peas, whole-wheat products, lentils and black beans.
Pelvic Floor Damage
Incontinence often results from damage to these bladder-supporting muscles. Pregnancy, childbirth and some abdominal surgeries may stretch and weaken the pelvic floor. Exercises called Kegels can strengthen the muscles and help them heal from trauma.
If you smoke or otherwise use tobacco, you know the habit isn't the greatest for your health. You might not know, though, that smoking cigarettes can cause urine leakage. The nicotine and chemicals in each smoke irritate the bladder, one of the many excellent reasons to think about quitting.
Other common bladder irritants include alcohol, caffeine and high-acid foods. If you're bothered by periodic bladder leaks, your morning cup of coffee or nightly glass of wine may be to blame.
Some medications also have this unwanted side effect. Talk to your doctor if he or she prescribed antihistamines, antidepressants or diuretics that caused urine leakage.
Urinary incontinence can be a symptom of bladder or prostate cancer. Even a benign tumor in this area can cause bladder leakage. Kidney stones can also lead to blockage and subsequent leakage.
If you receive radiation or chemotherapy for cancer, you could also experience incontinence as a side effect of treatment. This symptom typically clears up when these treatments end.
While running to the lav every five minutes definitely cramps your style, most cases of incontinence improve with self-care and sometimes medical treatment. Limiting water intake can also have a positive impact, as long as you get the recommended six to eight 8-oz glasses per day. Make the recommended lifestyle changes and keep a journal to help track down the potential cause of your unpleasant symptoms.