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How to Manage Bladder Issues As You Age

_Urinary incontinence, an issue with bladder control, can affect you as you get older. If you suffer from this condition, you aren’t alone—about 13 million Americans experience it every year.

It can happen at any time—you may feel a sudden urge to use the bathroom but are unable to make it there before your bladder releases. As you can imagine, this is a very sensitive topic and embarrassing problem that causes hygiene issues for some people and may lead them to shy away from outings with family and friends or simply leaving the house to run errands.

Bladder issues happen for many reasons, but you can do several things to better control this, even as you age.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can affect anyone at any age, but it is common in the elderly. That may be because of age-related changes in how the lower urinary tract functions. Lower urinary tract symptoms can lead to increased urination, painful urination and more of an urge to use the bathroom at night.

Urinary incontinence happens when the muscles in the bladder relax involuntarily to release urine from your body. Aside from age-related changes, temporary health conditions such as a urinary tract infection, vaginal infection or constipation can make it challenging to control your bladder. However, if you have ongoing bladder control issues, it may be because of weak or overactive bladder muscles or nerve damage resulting from certain health conditions like multiple sclerosis. Some men also may experience bladder control issues if they have an enlarged prostate. For many elderly people, physical and mental challenges also can make it difficult to get to the bathroom in a timely manner. Older adults with arthritis or memory issues may be slow to get to a bathroom or forgetful about emptying their bladder if a caregiver isn’t around to help them.

What You Can Do

If you have trouble controlling your bladder, it’s important to tell a caregiver and to see your doctor as soon as possible. Urinary incontinence can cause skin rashes or infections in the affected area and can increase the likelihood of ongoing urinary tract infections. Equally important, this health condition can limit time with family and friends because you may think it’s better to isolate yourself rather than risk an embarrassment around your loved ones or in social situations. However, it’s important that you maintain social ties, especially as you age, because these relationships can help to keep you mentally and emotionally healthy.

Bladder control issues can be very challenging, so you should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to get a diagnosis about the source of your incontinence. Your doctor will perform a thorough physical exam and tests to rule out an infection or other things. Once your doctor discovers the cause, he or she may suggest certain medications or behavioral therapies that can help you better control your bladder. In severe cases, surgery may be the best option.

Only 50 percent of people who suffer from urinary incontinence see a doctor about this issue. Please don’t be one of them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to get help for this issue, so you can have the freedom to enjoy time with family and friends without worries about your bladder. Contact MetroHealth if you have any questions or concerns about urinary incontinence or if you’d like to make an appointment with one of our care providers.

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