Urinary tract infections can sometimes lead to incontinence. But while both conditions are common, they’re also easily treated. WUKA experts discuss how to manage and treat UTI and incontinence.
What is urinary incontinence?
According to the NHS, urinary incontinence affects between 3 and 6 million people in the UK- but in reality, the figures could be much higher, thanks to it’s taboo status. Because let’s face it, incontinence can be embarrassing, and that can lead many of us to feel shame if we experience it. So let’s break down the stigma.
Urinary incontinence is normal. It affects men and women alike (although it’s more common in women), so it needs to be talked about.
“Urinary incontinence refers to accidentally passing urine. It can happen to anyone at any age, although it’s more common in women, and as you get older. There are two main types of female urinary incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence.”
“Stress incontinence refers to leaking urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise or lift something heavy. This is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles — a sling of muscles that run from your tailbone to your pubic bone in your pelvis and support your bladder, womb and bowel.
“Urge incontinence refers to a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate, usually due to an overactive bladder.”
What treatments are available for urinary incontinence?
There are treatments available to you if you’re experiencing urinary incontinence as a result of a UTI. Miss Adams told us,
“A clinician will consider your symptoms, age and fitness level prior to prescribing treatment. If you’re diagnosed with stress incontinence, your doctor will recommend pelvic floor physiotherapy to help train and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If you’re overweight, losing excess weight can also help by reducing the pressure placed on your bladder.
In more severe cases of stress incontinence, you may need bulking injections or fascial sling surgery. Bulking injections involve injecting a man-made material around the ring of muscle (sphincter) at the outlet of your bladder to help it stay closed when under strain (eg when you cough, laugh or sneeze). Fascial sling surgery involves taking a strip of tissue from your abdominal wall (fascia) and using it to create a sling underneath your urethra (the tube which carries urine out of your bladder) to better support it.
Prior to surgical treatment, you will need urodynamics testing – a variety of procedures that examine how well your bladder is working, including its capacity and urine flow. Urge incontinence is usually treated with bladder training, a type of behavioural therapy to help you increase the amount of time between feeling the urge to urinate and then urinating.
If bladder training alone isn’t effective, your doctor may recommend medication and eventually Botox injections.”
How to manage urinary incontinence
Miss Adams shared her top tips for managing urinary incontinence. She told us,
“There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your symptoms:
If you have stress incontinence, avoiding stress and heavy lifting can help, as well as losing excess weight.
If you have urge incontinence, it’s important to avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, which can irritate your bladder.”
If you are experiencing symptoms of urinary incontinence, we also recommend grabbing a pair of our Drytech™ incontinence pants to help you manage light leaks and dribbles on a daily basis.
Using our patented stretch technology, these pants are a great option if you also have a UTI- they’re designed to gently stretch to accommodate bloating and digestive distress, and they’re super soft too, so they’ll provide support and comfort when you need it most. Reusable incontinence pants are a an easy way to manage urinary incontinence, so keep a pair to hand and a spare in your bag too.
How does a UTI cause incontinence?
So how does having a UTI lead to urinary incontinence?
Miss Adams told us,
“Persistent urinary tract infections (UTIs) have been linked with urge incontinence. This is because infections can irritate your bladder leading to overactive bladder muscles.”
With this in mind, let’s take a look at what causes UTIs and what you can do to prevent and threat them.
What is a UTI?
Urinary Tract Infections are caused by bacteria entering the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra (the urinary tract). When the bacteria enters, it can sometimes lead to an infection, which can affect either the bladder (cystitis), urethra (urethritis) or kidneys (kidney infection).
Women are more susceptible to UTIs, and sometimes they can be recurrent. According to the NHS, the main symptoms of a UTI are:
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Feeling like you need to urinate more than usual, and during the night too
- Cloudy urine
- Strong smiling urine
- Dark coloured urine
- Bloody urine
- Lower abdomen pain
- Lower back pain
- High temperature and fever
- Low temperature
If you suspect you might have a UTI, it’s important to speak to your doctor for potential treatment.
What treatments are available for UTI?
UTIs can be treated at home, and in most cases a mild infection will pass in a couple of days. You can take paracetamol and use a hot water bottle to ease pain in your tummy or lower back. Try to rest as much as you can, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and to help flush the infection out.
If your symptoms worsen or do not go away, speak to your doctor for advice, as you may need antibiotics to treat the infection.
How to prevent a UTI
There are some steps you can take to prevent UTIs from occurring in the first place. When you use the loo, make sure you always wipe front to back, and always empty your bladder completely. Staying hydrated is also a good idea, and try to avoid holding your urine for too long too!
For comfort, and to prevent UTIs, try to wear loose clothing and breathable underwear- synthetic fabrics can make things worse, so go for cotton if you can. Finally, avoid fragranced products down there- including shower gel, fabric conditioners, soaps and lubricants.
Again, we recommend our Drytech™ incontinence pants here- go for a high waisted style to support your tummy. Using Polygiene OdourCrunch™ technology and Polygiene StayFresh™ technology you definitely don’t need to worry about odour or feeling ‘wet’- these pants will keep you fresh and comfy, and will hold up to 50ml leaks.
Can a UTI cause incontinence?
Urinary tract infections can sometimes lead to urinary incontinence, particularly if the infection isn’t treated, or if it returns frequently. Speak to your doctor for your treatment options.
How do you treat urinary tract infection incontinence?
There are different options for treating a UTI and in most cases, incontinence will ease off when the infection clears. In the meantime, a gently supportive pair of period pants is a great idea to absorb light leaks and dribbles.
How do I know if my UTI has spread to my bladder?
If you notice your urine is darker in colour, cloudy and foul smelling you could have a bladder infection. Make an appointment to see your doctor for advice
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