Infographic: How Aging Affects the Bladder and Bowels
With bladder and bowels problems thought to affect more than 200 million people worldwide, it can be easy to assume that bladder weakness and bowel issues are an inevitable part of aging. But it needn’t be.
Affecting people of all ages – and both male and female – urinary incontinence and bowel issues can be managed, or even eliminated in some cases, with simple changes. It starts with our improved understanding of what causes loss of control with the bladder and bowel, and how to re-gain it. In many cases, a few simple changes to lifestyle and habits can prevent issues in the first place.
Affects both male and female
Many people assume that urinary incontinence is an issue that affects only or mainly women. It is more common in females but men can suffer from urinary incontinence too. Bowel conditions don’t tend to discriminate between the sexes as much.
Until recently, urinary and bowel incontinence have been two issues rarely discussed. A hidden problem of which many people are embarrassed to admit to or discuss, it is only in recent years that the topic of incontinence is at the fore of discussion on health and well-being.
The causes of incontinence vary from one person to another, and between the sexes too. Men, for example, can suffer bladder and continence issues later in life to an enlarged prostate gland. Women can suffer from urinary incontinence due to a weakened pelvic floor muscle, as a result of pregnancy and birth, for example.
A fixable problem
Stress incontinence is when the muscles that hold the urine in the bladder are too weak to stop accidental leakage of urine. This may mean an escape of urine when you sneeze, jump, cough or laugh.
Urge incontinence is when the lining of the bladder is irritated, constantly sending signals to the brain to empty. Unfortunately, this can also mean that there is accidental escape of urine meaning you don’t reach the loo in time.
Bowel issues are more complex, with many people finding that controlling their bowel or suffering from prolonged bouts of constipation can be as a side effect of medication or as a result of another medical condition or illness.
Making small changes can have a big impact on urinary incontinence and bowel issues:
- Exercises for the pelvic floor muscles strengthen key muscles around the bladder that make controlling the bladder easier
- Bladder re-training is also a possibility this involves making loo visits at set times
- Drinking more water is also a way of helping an irritated bladder, by flushing out debris or infection; alongside medication, upping your water intake can have an impact
- Cutting down on some foods and drink can also help in controlling both the bladder and preventing constipation. Heavily spiced foods and alcohol should be limited, if not eliminated from the diet completely
- Medication in some instances can also prove to be beneficial in helping to control the bladder
- Managing incontinence with discreet incontinence products can also be helpful, especially if you live and active and full lifestyle.
Incontinence and bowel problems should not be something you ‘put up with’ or accept as part of life. With pelvic floor exercises and a few lifestyle changes, you can control the impact that incontinence is having on your life.
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